Critics Analyze EPA Fuel Standards as California Continues Political Battle With Trump Over Regulations

October 23, 2019 Updated: October 26, 2019

The Trump Administration announced in September their decision to withdraw California’s waiver from the 2013 Clean Air Act.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stated that the EPA is finalizing the “One National Program Rule” regarding fuel standards.

A press release by the EPA stated that the policy will “enable the federal government to provide nationwide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and light duty trucks.”

The decision will remove California’s authority to set its own fuel emission standards which are currently higher than national standard.

“Today’s action meets President Trump’s commitment to establish uniform fuel economy standards for vehicles across the United States, ensuring that no state has the authority to opt out of the nation’s rules, and no state has the right to impose its policies on the rest of the country,” said Chao during the press conference.

Many people are concerned that the new policy will lead to negative effects on the planet, arguing that stricter fuel emission policies will help protect the air and environment.

The Epoch Times reached out to Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow on environmental and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, to discuss the new EPA decision and its effects on the country.

Regarding the concern of increasing levels of carbon dioxide, Burnett explained that “there is no question that there could be some level where it [carbon dioxide] is dangerous, but we are nowhere near that and nothing that this [decision] does, Trump’s decision to freeze standards where they are, will not raise levels of carbon dioxide appreciably.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million,” which is the highest levels have been in the past 800,000 years.

Burnett noted that carbon dioxide is a necessary gas for plants to live and thrive. Without carbon dioxide, among other nutrients, plants will be unable to produce oxygen or food for itself, but balance is key.

Political Battle

However, while environmental concerns are important, the problem with the previous 2013 Clean Air Act is that it allowed California, as the sole state, to set the national standard for fuel emissions.

Burnett said that California and the 22 other states suing the Trump administration have incorrectly claimed that the new decision is rolling back and lowering the nationwide fuel emission standards.

“What Trump is doing is not rolling back standards, he is simply freezing standards where they currently are,” Burnett explained.

Individual states do not have the power or right to set nationwide policies. The current proposal under the Trump Administration is simply pushing for a uniform nationwide standard.

Another problem with the 2013 Clean Air Act is that it essentially limits people’s freedom of choice in deciding on the type of vehicles they can own.

Because California’s fuel standards are higher than the national standard, car producers are forced to produce vehicles according to California’s standards to reduce the cost of production.

If California continues to set the standard, “by de facto, what will happen is, car manufacturers will say we want to sell cars in California and other states that have adopted California’s standards. We’re not going to produce two sets of cars. What it means is that everyone will have to live with the cars that California allows, which is electric vehicles, small vehicles, not light trucks, not mini vans, not sedans,” Burnett said.

For California, the opposition toward the EPA’s decision is more of a political battle rather than a concern for the environment.

“The reality is California needs stricter standards because of high population density. Many Californians remember how bad smog was in LA over 50 years ago. So why can’t California work with the federal government to find a solution? Because of California Democrats’ war with President Trump,” said Konstantinos Roditis, former 2018 election candidate for California State Controller.