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Sep 17 2019

States’ Rights My Ass

I told you this was coming.

Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards
By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Washington Post
September 17, 2019

The Trump administration will revoke California’s right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks on Wednesday, according to two senior administration officials, as part of a larger effort to weaken an Obama-era climate policy curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s auto fleet.

The move sets up a legal battle between the federal government and the nation’s most populous state, which for decades has exercised authority to put in place more stringent fuel economy standards. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have vowed to adopt California’s standards if they diverge from the federal government’s, as have several major automakers.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department proposed taking away the waiver California received under the Obama administration to set tailpipe emissions for cars and light-duty trucks, as part of a rule that would freeze mileage standards for these vehicles at roughly 37 miles per gallon from 2020 to 2026.

But in July, California reached an agreement with four companies — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America — under which they pledged to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. That is one year later than the target set under the Obama administration.

Two senior administration officials, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet public, said that the administration would finalize revocation of California’s waiver Wednesday.

By taking away the state’s waiver, Trump officials are forcing auto companies to choose whether they will take California’s side or the federal government’s. As part of July’s deal with the California Air Resources Board, the four carmakers agreed to support the state’s right to set its own tailpipe standards.

EPA declined to comment on the matter Tuesday. But in a speech Tuesday to the National Automobile Dealers Association, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler made his intentions clear.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said. “To borrow from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, CAFE does not stand for California Assumes Federal Empowerment.”

Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, predicted in an interview that the move would make it easier for automakers to embrace the fuel efficiency rollback.

“That is the only thing that will remove the sword of Damocles over the automakers’ heads,” Lewis said. “The Trump administration really has to kick the bully off the playing field, and then the automakers will start talking more sensibly.”

But environmentalists said they were prepared to challenge the administration in court, and predicted that they would win.

“There’s nothing in the Clean Air Act or EPA regulations providing for this unprecedented action,” Martha Roberts, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in an interview. “The legislative history is explicit about broad authority for California. This is very well established legal authority that’s firmly anchored in the Clean Air Act.”

You see, by States’ Rights they don’t mean States’ Rights at all. They mean respect the Rights of States to enact and enforce Jim Crow discrimination laws.