President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Transportation Department on Wednesday formally unveiled their long-anticipated plan to gut Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, a regulatory rollback environmentalists quickly denounced as "a disastrous wreck for consumers and the planet."
"Everyone who breathes should be worried about the tailpipe pollution Trump's administration wants to unleash."
—Paul Cort, Earthjustice
"We remember the thick smog that used to choke our cities and we refuse to return to those times," Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort said in a statement on Thursday responding to the Trump administration's proposal, which would freeze rules requiring automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles. "Everyone who breathes should be worried about the tailpipe pollution Trump's administration wants to unleash."
In addition to rolling back national clean car standards, the Trump administration's new proposal would also revoke the power of states—most prominently California—to establish their own more stringent fuel efficiency rules.
As a whole, the EPA's plan is the regulatory "equivalent of a 100-car pileup," argued Public Citizen's Robert Weissman.
"This proposal puts the Trump administration on a collision course with California and the supermajority of Americans who want more fuel-efficient vehicles," Weissman added. "Americans understand and demand the twin benefits of lower gasoline bills and reduced carbon pollution. The only good news is that the administration’s course will fail—in the courts, in the political realm, and the marketplace."
"By 2030," Cort of Earthjustice added, "the pollution equivalent of this rollback will be like firing up 30 coal power plants. It's a boon for big oil that ordinary Americans will pay for with their health and their wallets."
Trump’s #CleanerCars rollback will steal billions from consumers at the gas pump, pollute our air and risk lives.
Instead of putting American families first, the Trump administration is once again doing the bidding of corporations and their lobbyists. https://t.co/qiMlMvkHSO
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) August 2, 2018
Almost immediately after the Trump administration formally released its plan to gut the nation's fuel efficiency standards, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra denounced the proposal as a "brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's clean car standards," and vowed to continue challenging Trump's deregulatory agenda in court.
"The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today's national standards and reaffirm the facts and science behind them," Becerra said in a statement. "Our nation's clean car standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families' health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this administration accountable."
Now that the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, it is open for public comment until Oct. 2. A final version of the rule is expected to be released before the end of the year.