California emission waiver revoked

By Joseph Cotton | Staff Writer

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California, along with 22 other states, has sued the Trump administration in response to its decision to rescind a federal waiver allowing California to enforce its own automobile emission standards that are higher than currently federally mandated.

The decision to rescind the waiver was originally announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter following a letter sent by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) notifying the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that the agreement was inconsistent with the Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. 

The original waiver, implemented in the 1970s, was granted because California is the largest automobile market in the United States and struggles to meet air quality standards. Since then, 13 other states have adopted California’s higher emission standards.

California’s waiver was then updated in 2008 by the Obama administration as part of the auto industry bailout.

The waiver will be replaced by the “Safe, Affordable, Fuel-efficient (SAFE)” rules created by the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under the “One Nation Program Rule” policy set by the Trump administration.

According to an EPA press release, the “One Nation Program Rule” enables the federal government to provide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for automobiles and light-duty trucks.

According to the press release, “The proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule standards would establish attainable fuel economy and GHG vehicle emissions standards that will help ensure that more Americans have access to safer, more affordable and cleaner vehicles that meet their families’ needs.”

“I think it’s petty and stupid, I don’t think anything good is going to come of it. It’s just going to negatively impact the environment,” sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Olivia Steenberg said.  

It is unclear how the Trump administration’s decision will practically affect emissions in the United States.

In July, California lawmakers reached a deal with automotive manufactures Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW. They agreed to hold themselves to the California emissions standards regardless of federal government policy.

The Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation regarding the deal shortly after it was made public.

“I think that the rest of the country should be held to the emissions standards of California,” said sophomore marketing major Hunter McKean.

“The only people who are affected are the car manufactures, and everyone knows they have enough money to help with the issue.”  

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have been critical of Trump’s decision, calling into question his ties to the oil industry and competency in office.

“It’s about the oil industry, period. Full stop. It’s not about the car manufacturers. It’s not about consumers,” Newsome said in a press conference.

The comment was likely in reference to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s previous work legally representing Murry Energy Corporation and lobbying against the Obama administration’s environmental regulations. Becerra cited the 2007 Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, which held that the state has the ability to set its own fuel economy standards even if they are higher than those set by the Clean Air Act, to defend California’s waiver. “President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual on respecting rule of law.