In Rush to Gut Vehicle Rules, Wheeler Intends to Fight States’ Legal Ability to Set Standards

Statement by Don Anair, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Mar 12, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (March 12, 2019)—In an interview published today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the Trump administration would issue new, weaker vehicle emissions and efficiency rules without negotiating with California—and that the administration would try to revoke California’s legal ability to set its own standards. This is a legally dubious move in pursuit of bad policy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  

Below is a statement by Don Anair, Research and Deputy Director of the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS.

“Today’s vehicle standards are working. There’s one national program, put in place thanks to careful negotiations among federal agencies, states and automakers, and grounded in science. These rules have saved drivers nearly $80 billion at the pump and spurred innovation in clean car technology. Unfortunately, Administrator Wheeler and the Trump administration are determined to bring this progress to a halt by radically weakening this successful policy.

“California’s authority to set emissions standards—and other states’ ability to adopt those standards, as 13 states and the District of Columbia have—is clearly defined in the Clean Air Act. If the Trump administration tries to take that authority away, they’ll have only themselves to blame for the legal battle they’ll face and the uncertainty it will impose on the U.S. auto industry.

“Administrator Wheeler’s willingness to defy the law is bad enough, but what makes it even worse is the fact that he’s taking this aggressive position to attack a policy that has delivered cleaner cars to American consumers every year. If the Trump administration gets its way, it’s going to gut one of the most important climate policies on the books, force drivers to burn more oil, and put American automakers at a disadvantage in the global market. It’s a bad move in pursuit of bad policy.”