(ABC News) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would revoke a federal waiver that enabled California to set stricter standards for vehicle emissions, insisting that the move would ultimately produce “far less expensive” and safer cars.
The decision, announced via tweet during his trip to California, sets up a lengthy legal battle with the state and injects uncertainty into the automobile industry.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, accused Trump of having a “political vendetta” against the state, and environmental groups warned the decision would worsen air pollution.
“Our message to those who claim to support states’ rights – don’t trample on ours,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra at a press conference.
Trump said in his tweets that preventing tough restrictions from going into effect would lead to increased production. That increased production, in turn, would encourage consumers to replaces old cars with “extremely environmentally friendly cars.”
“Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” he tweeted. “Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”
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. This will lead to more production because of this pricing and safety……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
….far safer and much less expensive. Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
Trump’s announcement caps a long-running dispute between his administration, which in 2018 moved to scrap Obama-era standards on fuel efficiency standards, and Democratic state officials in California, which had already secured a waiver under the Clean Air Act to set their own stricter requirements.
In July, California escalated the feud by reaching a voluntary agreement with four major automakers – Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen — to adhere to stricter standards even if Trump’s regulatory rollbacks were finalized. More than a dozen states have promised to adopt these tougher standards.
The Justice Department responded by launching an antitrust investigation into the four automakers.
For their part, automakers have been cautious in responding. Dave Schwietert, interim CEO and president of the industry group Auto Alliance, said his group was still reviewing the action to “get the full picture of how this impacts automakers, our workers and our customers.”
In his statement though, he noted the group supports “one national program” and to “avoid a marketplace with different standards.”
Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, warned that automakers didn’t want the years of uncertainty with a protracted legal fight as the nation debates tailpipe pollution.
Based on “numerous meetings and conversations, I am confident that no auto maker wanted this outcome,” he said in a statement. “in fact, it’s the exact outcome they sought to avoid.”
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was expected to discuss the plan at his agency headquarters with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday.
In a speech Tuesday before a group of auto dealers, he said California was overstepping its regulatory bounds.
“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said.
The nonprofit Consumer Reports has estimated Trump’s 2018 proposal to scrap Obama-era fuel standards for new cars and light-duty trucks would cost consumers about $460 billion dollars in savings in coming years.
Free download: Access Connecticut breaking news, weather, stream newscasts live and more on-the-go with News 8 alerts directly to your phone.