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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration said on Thursday it is revoking California’s authority to set its own auto tailpipe emissions standards and to require some zero-emission vehicles - a decision that will spark a massive legal battle over the future of U.S. vehicles and the most populous state’s regulatory role.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement the decision will ensure nationwide rules that provide “much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry.” Currently, California’s more stringent vehicle emissions rules are also followed by a dozen other states that account for than 40% of U.S. vehicle sales.
“No state has the authority to opt out of the nation’s rules and no state has the right to impose its policies on everybody else in our whole country,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said at a press conference. “To do otherwise harms consumers and damages the American economy.”
Revocation of California’s ability to set its own standards is part of a multi-pronged battle by the Trump administration to counter the state’s efforts to reshape the mix of vehicles driven by Americans. Chao added that the administration will also finalize its revisions to requirements for future fuel efficiency standards through 2026 in the coming weeks and they would be “reasonable,” rolling back standards set under the preceding president, Barack Obama.
The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles (75 kilometers) per gallon by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option to freeze requirements.
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