WASHINGTON -- Governors from more than 20 states -- including some won by Donald Trump in the 2016 election -- joined California officials to urge his administration to implement automobile emissions rules that are consistent nationwide and require efficiency improvements each year.
In a joint statement Tuesday, 23 governors including California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, called for a “common-sense approach” to nationwide requirements that will cut tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change and avoid regulatory uncertainty sparked by a legal battle over the administration’s 2018 proposal to ease the rules.
Among the state leaders who signed the pact are the governors of Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, key states that helped propel Trump to victory in 2016.
“These are not states that have been aggressive air pollution regulators or pro-regulation at all,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air quality regulator.
The administration last August proposed capping mileage requirements at a 37 mpg fleet average after 2020, instead of rising each year. It also proposed stripping California’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from autos, which the state has done in coordination with federal regulators for several years.
The governors echoed the concerns of a group 17 major automakers that in June urged President Donald Trump to resume talks with California officials in search of a compromise, a plea the White House rejected.
Automakers fear that without an agreement between Washington and Sacramento, easing the federal standards could lead to a messy legal battle, a patchwork of efficiency standards, or both. California’s rules are followed by roughly a dozen other states on the Pacific coast and Northeastern U.S. that together account for more than a third of American auto sales.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are working on a final rule that could be sent to the White House for review in the coming weeks.