By Miriam Raftery
May 2, 2018 (Sacramento) – California announced Tuesday that it will join 16 other states in a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Secretary Scott Pruitt from reversing fuel efficiency standards to protect clean air and reduce greenhouse gasses fueling climate change.
Transportation is now the number one source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., the U.S. Energy Department concluded in a 2017 study.
“They want people to buy more gas, create more pollution. It’s hard to believe, but that’s the fact,” Governor Jerry Brown said at a press conference Tuesday. “It’s not going to make America great, it’s going to make America second-rate and probably will jeopardize America’s auto industry.”
University of California, Davis, transportation professor Dan Sperling, who also serves on California’s Air Resources Board, agrees with Brown that if the Trump administration succeeds in blocking new emission standards, the U.S. will lose out to China and European countries that have adopted their own strict fuel efficiency standards and even set deadlines to ban sale of gas-powered vehicles completely, leading the way on developing zero-emission technologies.
“The U.S. is on the verge of ceding its leadership in the global auto industry,” Sperling says of the EPA efforts to rollback emission standards, Bloomberg News reports.
In the 1970s, in Brown’s first term as Governor, pollution in California was so bad that Los Angeles was shrouded in brown smog that obscured views and often sickened people. This reporter once went for a walk on a smoggy day in L.A. and awoke to paramedics reviving me with oxygen after passing out from breathing the smoggy air. Brown implemented the toughest air pollution standards and fuel efficiency rules in the nation – and they worked, relegating smog to a mostly distant memory.
California’s latest plan requires automakers to attain 55 miles a gallon average fuel efficiency by 2025. But the Trump wants to freeze efficiency levels at 42 miles per gallon, in response to oil and gas industry lobbying efforts. The Trump administration has declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that almost 75% of Californians surveyed support the state’s mandate to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.
EPA director Pruitt, a climate change denier, sued the EPA to weaken air pollution standards when he was attorney general for Oklahoma, an oil producing state.
Pruitt’s latest effort to block emission standards is part of an all-out assault on California’s environmental regulations. California has sued the EPA 10 times since Trump took office over issues ranging from rolling back bans on dangerous air pollutants to offshore oil drilling. The Trump administration has also imposed tariffs on imported solar equipment and end an Obama-era policy to cut CO2 pollution from electric power plants.
The rule that Pruitt seeks to destroy was based on a two-year deliberative process, while the Trump administration has provided zero factual evidence to support its effort to cancel the rule, according to Brown, who warns, “We’re losing the battle on climate change. We’ve got to step up our efforts. This is about the survival of some of you and certainly, all of your children.”
It’s not just about California, the Governor who has led California’s efforts to build a green economy for the past four decades says. “It’s a battle not only for the soul of America, but the future of America,” he concludes.