Biden To Reverse Trump’s Spiteful Punishment Of Blue States

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The Biden administration is moving to undo policy provisions from the Trump era that restricted the ability of individual states like California to set their own greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles.

Eliminating opportunities for states to move on their own beyond potentially lax federal standards, like the Trump administration did, could set environmental protection efforts back a significant degree with environmentally ignorant authorities like the Trump administration in power. During the Trump era, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set up a rule increasing required fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year — although a nearly 5 percent per year increase in required fuel efficiency had been set to take effect under the Obama administration.

In other words: the Trump administration was clearly not concerned with ambitious action against environmental degradation, and they sought to force individual states to stick to their own lax standards. An announcement from the Environmental Protection Administration that they’d be allowing California to set its own vehicle emission standards emerged on Monday, and last Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “took his own action by proposing to withdraw his department’s part of a Trump administration rule blocking states from setting their own tailpipe standards,” The Washington Post explains.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan commented as follows:

‘I am a firm believer in California’s long-standing statutory authority to lead. The 2019 decision to revoke the state’s waiver to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and trucks was legally dubious and an attack on the public’s health and wellbeing. Today, we are delivering on President Biden’s clear direction to tackle the climate crisis by taking a major step forward to restore state leadership and advance EPA’s greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals.’

Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to restrict California’s ability to establish its own climate policies, the state already plans to end sales of gas-powered cars by the year 2035, and on a more general note, thirteen other states and Washington, D.C., have adopted the emission standards developed by California. Going forward, fully procedurally reversing the Trump administration’s restrictions on environmental protection efforts will take some time — a proposed Transportation Department rule allowing individual states to set their own environmental standards for vehicles will be subject to a 30-day public comment period once formally published in the Federal Register, and it’s not apparently published yet.

According to the Post, “carmakers, autoworkers and environmentalists are eager to strike a deal with both the federal government and California to create one set of nationwide standards for tailpipe emissions,” and EPA Administrator Regan recently said that the Biden administration would be unveiling a proposed nationwide standard in July. Higher attention to environmental concerns contrasts strikingly with the Trump administration’s approach — at one point while in office, then-President Trump said that he simply didn’t “believe” a report on the looming impacts of climate change produced by his own administration.