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Politics Trump admin says Obama EPA car rules should be weakened

22:16  02 april  2018
22:16  02 april  2018 Source:   thehill.com

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a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill The Obama administration's global warming rules for cars for the coming years are too strict and should be relaxed, the Trump administration declared Monday, siding with automakers.

The widely expected declaration by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt matches up with what automakers have asked President Trump to do, arguing that with fuel prices low and Americans buying bigger cars, the greenhouse gas standards for cars built between 2022 and 2025 are too aggressive.

Pruitt said he's kicking off a regulatory process with the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to formally loosen the standards. NHTSA is responsible for car efficiency rules while EPA's authority is over the greenhouse gas emissions.

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"The Obama administration's determination was wrong," Pruitt said in a Monday statement, referring to the Obama administration's finding weeks before Trump's inauguration that the upcoming rules are appropriate.

"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 the standards too high," he said.

The standards, set as part of a landmark agreement with automakers in 2011, were one of the main pillars of former President Obama's climate change agenda. The EPA estimated that cars could get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, and that model years between 2012 and 2025 would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion tons and save consumers $1.7 trillion.

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The Monday declaration sets up a showdown with California, which has the authority to retain strict standards and has declared its intention to go it alone without the EPA. Twelve other states follow California's rules, accounting for about a third of the nation's car market.

The announcement is part of a review the EPA pledged to make to determine if the 2022-through-2025 rules are still feasible.

The Obama administration concluded weeks before Trump's inauguration in January 2017 that the rules through 2025 are still attainable. Automakers strenuously disagreed, and asked Trump to redo the review shortly after he took office.

Environmental groups immediately slammed Pruitt's decision, arguing that it would be disastrous for pollution and the climate while increasing motorists' fuel costs.

"These roll-backs from Scott Pruitt mean Americans will pay more at the pump while our air gets dirtier, just so Pruitt can help the corporate lobbyists and polluters who give him favors and marching orders," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

"Pruitt's decision to side with Ford and the Auto Alliance rather than the overwhelming majority of Americans who want these clean car standards should come as no surprise as this is an administrator who focuses solely on what's best for corporate polluters, not the public. But make no mistake, we will continue fighting back to protect these standards and the health of our communities," he said.

McConnell sends warning over nomination votes .
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hinted Monday that he's willing to keep the Senate in town through Friday, or even into the weekend, as Republicans work to confirm a slate of President Trump's nominees. "We have a number of nominees to consider in the next several days. ...The Senate's workweek will not end until all of these amply qualified nominees are confirmed," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

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