EPA's new chief to meet California regulator over emissions, mpg goals

Andrew Wheeler, pictured, was elevated to the EPA's top post following the scandal-fueled ouster of former agency administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON -- California's top air-quality official will meet with the EPA's new acting chief on Tuesday, the first meeting between two regulators who disagree over the Trump administration's plan to weaken automobile efficiency regulations.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler reached out to state officials after his appointment and the two will meet in person here. Wheeler was elevated to the EPA's top post following the scandal-fueled ouster of former agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

"I am not at the moment expecting any changes in direction or changes in policy" from Wheeler's appointment, Nichols said at an event organized by Politico. "But I hear from others who know him he is a practical person who likes to move forward and is willing to make compromises, so I am hopeful that we'll find some things to work on together."

The White House is reviewing proposals by the EPA and NHTSA to roll back stringent fuel economy and emissions standards for automobiles that were enacted during the Obama administration. The proposals are also said to contain attacks on California's authority to set vehicle efficiency rules that are tougher than the federal government's, people familiar with the matter have said.

In May, Trump directed his agencies to reach out to California officials including Nichols in a bid to reach a deal on changes to the rules, which the state has vowed to defend in court if necessary. Those talks haven't happened, Nichols said this month.

You can reach Ryan Beene at autonews@crain.com

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