The move, following Pruitt’s completion of the Midterm Evaluation process, would weaken greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for vehicle models for years 2022 through 2025.
“The Obama EPA’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement Monday. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set standards too high.”
Those standards were introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2011. The measure required auto makers to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. The Obama administration, at the time, said the standards would curb carbon pollution and cut more than 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas over the life of the program.
Pruitt also said the EPA would examine a waiver granted to California under the Clean Air Act, which sets standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. The federal waiver granted by the EPA allowed California to impose stricter standards for emissions of certain pollutants than required by federal law.
But the EPA said Monday that the California waiver is “still being re-examined,” setting the Trump administration up for what could be another legal battle with the state.
“Pruitt’s decision to begin rolling back fuel economy standards is a victory for big oil and major corporations at the expense of American consumers and clean air for our kids. As usual, the administration sides with big, powerful special interests over the interests of average American families, who will pay the price for lower miles per gallon and dirtier air,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded.
“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” Pruitt said. “EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford—while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars.”
Pruitt added that it was in “everyone’s best interest” to impose a “national standard.”