The Trump administration's decision Monday to soften the upcoming pollution standards for passenger cars threatens to spark a political and legal battle with California, which in turn intends to maintain more ambitious goals.
Nicknamed "CAFE" (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), the standards for the period 2022-2025 had been set by the previous Democratic Administration of Barack Obama shortly before the arrival of Republican Donald Trump at the White House.
They provided for gradual increases in vehicle range to reach a goal of 54.5 miles per gallon of gasoline (4.32 liters per hundred kilometers) in 2025.
"The Obama administration's conclusions were wrong", Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Scott Pruitt said in a statement Monday.
"Under the Obama administration, the process of evaluating standards was was conducted too quickly for political reasons and was based on references that did not correspond to reality, setting too high standards. "
" The California Exemption is currently under way. EPA review, "adds the agency's news release.
California can, through an exemption, set even tougher standards for the rest of the country, which it has been doing for many years. decades, prompting automakers to adapt to his own rather than federal standards to be able to sell their cars.
Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General, a traditionally democratic state, immediately reacted to the announcement of the EPA, saying in a statement that "the Trump administration's offensive against car pollution standards endangers our ability to protect the health of our children, combat climate change and allow Americans save money. "
" We are ready to go to court to preserve these essential standards and to respond to the war declared by the administration against the environment ", he said.
– National Standards –
"Federalism does not mean that a state can dictate standards for the rest of the country," said Pruitt. "It is in our interest to have national standards and we will work with all states, including California, to achieve this," he said.
The US president announced in the months that have following his arrival at the White House in January 2017, he would ask the EPA to review the standards established for the period 2022-2025 with a view to reviewing them.
This decision was part of his intention to dismantle the most of the "climate plan" established by his predecessor. Trump also decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal, saying it harms US economic interests.
The Automotive Alliance, which brings together the 12 largest manufacturers in the states The United States has not responded directly to the EPA's decision but has stated on its website that it has already largely achieved the targets set by the Paris Agreements on automobile pollution.
Standards CAFE are not established by car but for the entire range of each manufacturer. That is to say that, for each model consuming a lot of gasoline, it must also include a model with little or no fuel consumption (like electric cars) and it is the average that must meet the standard.
The Alliance claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are already 21% lower for new cars sold in the United States than they were in 2005 for a target of 26% to 28%. % fixed by the Paris Agreement
But the standards established for the United States alone for the period 2022-2025 would have brought this reduction to 50%, underlines the alliance.
With the decline in gasoline prices in recent years, US consumers have started to buy bigger and more polluting vehicles, SUVs (city 4x4s) and pickups now representing more than 60% of the market.