NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump's administration announced plans today to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, sparking a likely fight with California and other states that favor more aggressive environmental policies.
The tough standards favored by President Barack Obama "are no longer appropriate and reasonable" beyond 2020, according to the proposal released by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The two agencies will gather public comments and hold hearings before the rule changes can be implemented. The less stringent standards would apply to 2021-2026 model years.
Trump administration officials depicted the proposed shift as a way to limit car prices for consumers, saying the Obama rules add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car and have been a factor in the rise in retail prices to an average of USD 35,000 or more.
They also said the policy shift would lead to fewer highway deaths by enabling more consumers to afford new vehicles that are safer than those being traded in.
"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to US roads and we look forward to receiving input from the public," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.
But backers of the Obama-era rules dismissed these arguments, noting that more efficient fuel rules mean consumers spend less on gasoline, while reducing emissions that can slow global warming trends.
"California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible," California Governor Jerry Brown said on Twitter.
"For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere," Brown said.
"Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air."