The Trump administration has found another bone to pick with their opponents at home: This time, the administration will attempt to remove state emissions standards and force California to accept the weaker federal regulations recommended by the EPA, formerly led by Scott Pruitt.
This would mean a serious knock to the emissions standards California has been trying to set for itself. California was also one of the states to publicly distance themselves from Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement. The EPA and the federal transportation department will unveil a proposed legislation for the state, which will then be open for debate, before the agency makes a decision. Meanwhile, California has announced that the state plans to take legal action to fight the intrusion into their state politics. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he is “ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards.”
California’s path being different from the federal standard has been a thorn in the eye of the administration for some time, which ordinarily celebrates states rights to self-determination. In January, government Jerry Brown signed a decree requiring at least 5 million EVs on California roads by 2030. This is accompanied by a 2.5 billion dollar programme spread over 8 years which will continue state subsidies for electrified vehicles, as well as set up a total of 200 hydrogen fuel stations by 2025 as well as 250,000 charging stations (10,000 of which are designated to be DC fast chargers). Before the announcement, the official target was to bring 1.5 million electrified vehicles on the road by 2025.
In April the EPA had already threatened California over their Obama era ability to determine their own emissions standards. Scott Pruitt, the disgraced former head of the EPA said: “California is not the arbiter of these issues.” California regulates greenhouse gas emissions at the state level, “but that shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.” The Obama administration had enacted a rule allowing California to set up separate environmental standards from the rest of the country, as the south-western state was more ambitious than some of its neighbors.
The Golden State is not the only one who does not like the federal mandate, which has seen Pruitt slashing regulations and loosening industry standards, before his scandal-ridden departure from the agency three weeks ago. In June, nine states made a public statement against further development of combustion vehicles, which had been the plan for the Trump administration. Next to California, the states included Oregon, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a counter-plan to the federal administration, the team of states created a new e-mobility action plan, that contains 80 recommendations for local regulations, automobile manufacturers, salespeople and energy providers. The goal of the plan is to pave the way for more battery-electric vehicles and hybrids by 2021.