California air regulators vote to keep tough fuel standards

AP News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2017 6:39 PM

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — California air regulators voted Friday to keep the state's tough vehicle emissions standards through 2025.

The state Air Resources Board voted unanimously at a meeting in Riverside to continue with the standards for 2022 to 2025 after reaching a conclusion similar to one by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration.

More recently, however, President Donald Trump said he wants to re-examine the rules governing gas mileage and set a uniform fuel mileage requirement for automakers in the U.S.

Trump's move prompted environmental and consumer advocates to call on California to affirm its commitment to keeping the tougher standards.

"The program is delivering cleaner cars that save consumers money and are fun to drive. That's how we do it in California," board chair Mary D. Nichols said.

The standards — followed by a dozen mostly Northeastern states, including New York and Massachusetts — require new cars and trucks to average 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions by 2025.

Also on Friday, the board voted to pursue policies to support having more than 4 million zero-emission vehicles in California by 2030 and further reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions from 2025 to 2030, the agency said.

Environmental groups predict Trump will weaken the standards that were affirmed in the waning days of the Obama administration to control greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The auto industry is concerned the standards will be tough to meet because people are buying more trucks and SUVs instead of fuel-efficient cars.

California started setting its stricter pollution standards more than four decades ago to clean up its smoggy skies.

Today, California and federal standards are mostly the same. However, if Trump relaxes the standards, California and the other states likely would keep the 36 mpg rule in place, potentially creating two standards.

Since about 40 percent of the nation's vehicles are in states that follow California rules, automakers might conform to them rather than build two different vehicles for the U.S. market.

Environmental advocates say they worry the administration might try to revoke California's ability to create its own standard.