Trump defends plan to kill California’s authority to set its own auto-emissions rules

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By Coral Davenport
The New York Times Company

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday posted on Twitter an aggressive defense of his unprecedented move to abolish California’s legal authority to set its own standards on climate-warming automobile emissions.

Trump was in Los Angeles for a fundraiser when he wrote in defense of a move that California officials and environmental advocates have assailed as an illegal attack on states’ rights and on a major policy designed to fight climate change.

“The Trump administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER,” Trump wrote in the first of several posts. He said the change would lead to increased auto production and claimed that the newer cars would be “extremely environmentally friendly.”

The Trump administration is expected later Wednesday to formally revoke California’s authority to set auto emissions rules that are stricter than federal standards.

The formal abolishment of one of California’s signature environmental policies — tailpipe pollution is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States — is expected to be announced Wednesday afternoon at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Thirteen other states follow California’s tighter standards, together representing roughly a third of the national auto market.

Legal experts said if Trump’s move was ultimately held up by the Supreme Court, it could permanently block states from regulating vehicle greenhouse gas pollution. If it was rejected, it would allow states to set separate tailpipe pollution standards from those set by the federal government.

The move has been widely expected since last summer, when the Trump administration unveiled its draft plan to roll back the strict federal fuel economy standards put in place by the Obama administration. That draft Trump rule also included a plan to revoke the state’s legal waiver — granted to California under the 1970 Clean Air Act — allowing it to set tougher state-level standards than those put forth by the federal government.

The administration’s plans have been further complicated because major automakers have told the White House they do not want such an aggressive rollback.

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