Calling Standards ‘Too High,’ E.P.A. Moves to Relax Car Pollution Rules

The Trump administration on Monday launched an effort to weaken Obama-era greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for automobiles, moving to reverse one of the single biggest steps any government has taken to rein in emissions of earth-warming gases.

“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a news release. “Obama’s E.P.A. 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.”

The E.P.A. is also re-examining a federal waiver granted to California that has allowed it and 12 other states to follow more stringent air pollution rules, the news release said. That move could propel the Trump administration closer to a showdown with California, which has vowed to stick with the stricter rules even if Washington rolls back federal standards.

Put forth by President Barack Obama in 2012, the fuel economy standards would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. If fully implemented, the rules would have cut oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations and reduced carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons. The E.P.A. did not say how far those rules should be rolled back, only that it would start a new rule-making process to set “more appropriate” standards.

Content originally published on by HIROKO TABUCHI