EPA to challenge California in fuel economy reset

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Now, President Trump is looking to revoke California's ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards and reverse planned hikes in fuel efficiency standards adopted by the Obama administration. California was also one of the states to publicly distance themselves from Trump's decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement.

The move is expected as early as Thursday and will propose revoking California's power to set state vehicle emissions rules and mandate the purchase of electric vehicles, a government official briefed on the matter said and was reported by Reuters. Freezing the standards would reduce the average fleet fuel economy standard from a current projected level of 46.8 miles per gallon in 2026 and reduce it to 37 miles per gallon, according to an earlier draft obtained by Democratic Senator Tom Carper. "To do so, we advocate maintaining the current standards that would raise the average fuel economy of the USA light-duty vehicle fleet to a projected 50.8 mpg by 2025 based on the current USA light-duty vehicle fleet mix".

The administration plans to propose a rule that would revoke a waiver California was granted by the EPA under the Clean Air Act to set state emissions rules and require zero emission vehicles. State regulators also worked closely with the Obama Administration to craft federal fuel economy standards that span well into the future.

If the Trump administration successfully strips California of its nationally applicable standards waiver, it will appear as though it's bucking the general trend of Republicans backing state's rights.

A legal battle is sure to ensue, so expect to hear much more on the fuel economy front in the coming weeks and months.

Automakers are ambivalent about the reform, citing regulatory uncertainty as a problem.

The EPA and Transportation Department did not immediately provide comments on Monday.

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The proposal will likely meet strong resistance in California, a state that has embraced electric vehicles, as well as a dozen other states that have adopted California's tough emission rules.

The possibility that the administration could take both steps was first reported in April and enraged California officials, who promptly sued to block any freeze in fuel-efficiency standards.

In 2009, California received a waiver from the EPA, allowing it to set its own limits on greenhouse gases from vehicles, effectively mandating that vehicles sold in California burn less fossil fuel. California Air Resources Board head Mary Nichols declined to comment.

Golden State already vowed to fight the move. Agencies are expected to claim it will reduce traffic fatalities by making it cheaper for drivers to replace older, less-safe cars, while paring sticker prices for new vehicles even if motorists have to spend more for gasoline.

"The big question: Who will the vehicle companies back?"

The rules could thwart efforts to boost EVs in California.

Wheeler said he met last week with Mary Nichols, the head of California' Air Resource Board, and shared the administration's opinion.