U.S. moves to reverse Trump on California vehicle-emission rules

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FILE PHOTO: Commuters navigate early morning traffic as they drive towards downtown in Los Angeles, California

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Monday it was moving to reverse the Trump administration’s 2019 decision to withdraw California’s legal authority to set vehicle emissions rules and set zero-emission vehicle mandates.

The action follows the U.S. Transportation Department’s announcement last week that it would launch the process to reverse the Trump rule that sought to preempt California’s vehicle emissions under the federal government’s authority to set Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements.

“The 2019 decision to revoke the state’s waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and trucks was legally dubious and an attack on the public’s health and wellbeing,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement.

The EPA in 2013 granted California a waiver for its tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and zero-emission vehicle regulations. In tandem with the 2019 rule, the agency revoked the waiver under Trump, prompting a court challenge from two dozen U.S. states.

A total of 13 states have adopted California’s vehicle-emission rules, and several others are in the process of joining. A dozen have also adopted its zero-emission vehicle mandates.

EPA will hold a virtual public hearing on June 2 on its notice of reconsideration, and take public comments through July 6.

EPA separately said it plans to issue a rule by July on vehicle-emission standards.

Trump last year finalized a rollback of vehicle-emission standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts in Obama administration rules that it discarded.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Tom Carper said Monday “the Biden Administration is beginning to undo the last administration’s regulatory wreckage. Rather than celebrate and encourage state innovation to tackle climate change, the last administration sought to stifle progress and tie the states’ hands.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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