Democrats look to block rollback

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019

A trio of Democratic senators reintroduced legislation today to block the Trump administration’s rollback of fuel efficiency standards for cars.

Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts joined Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of California to reintroduce the “Greener Air Standards Mean Our National Security, Environment and Youth Saved Act.”

The bill would block any rulemaking aimed at weakening fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

The measure is unlikely to advance in the GOP-controlled Senate, but as a messaging tool, it illustrates Democrats’ forceful opposition to one of the Trump administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks.

In addition to Harris, a raft of presidential contenders are co-sponsoring the bill, including Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are proposing to freeze fuel economy requirements through 2026 and preempt California from setting tougher tailpipe pollution rules than the federal government.

The two agencies hope to finalize the rollback by late spring or early summer, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said last month.

In a news release, Markey’s office said the Obama-era car rules were projected to save nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2030. It did not provide a source for that figure, although environmental groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists have reached similar conclusions.

“Instead of fostering the kind of innovation and American competitiveness that come with more efficient cars, the EPA and NHTSA are doing the bidding of Big Oil and putting us in reverse,” Markey said in a statement.

“Fuel economy emissions standards are the single greatest action ever taken by any nation to fight climate change.”