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States vow to press fight against Trump's auto fuel rules

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Dear America, chill out. New standards will save lives and not ruin the world

Cars on the Grand Central Parkway pass LaGuardia Airport in NY.

The administration says rolling back the Obama-era rules would save buyers of new vehicles about $2,000, while consumer groups counter that better fuel efficiency saves money at the gas pump.

Electric vehicles could be a major source of electricity demand for utilities, but the Trump administration's vehicle efficiency rollback could slow their growth, particularly in their biggest market - California. The result, opponents say, will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death. The proposal indicates that retaining the MY 2020 standards will save over 500 billion dollars in societal costs and reduce highway fatalities by 12,700 lives over the lifetimes of vehicles through MY 2029.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra already filed a lawsuit with 16 other states and Washington, D.C., in April, when the EPA first announced it would seek to repeal.

"California has long served as a model for the nation in the fight against climate change and efforts to ensure we can all breathe clean air", said Senator Harris.

The proposed change, halting further improvement requirements, stakes its case on consumer choice and on highway safety claims challenged by many transportation experts. Meanwhile, the US would increase its fuel consumption by about 500,000 barrels of oil per day, contributing to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions. And that, it said, would get vehicles with the latest technology into the hands of consumers more quickly.

"A key goal of this rule-making is to reduce the barriers to enabling Americans to purchase newer, safer, cleaner cars", they wrote.

Some Republican lawmakers supported the mileage freeze, but environmental groups and many states assailed it.

This week's publication of the proposed rule in the federal register opens up the next legal step in the Trump administration's procession toward undoing the Obama rule. It wants to freeze fuel economy standards at about 37 miles per gallon until 2026.

"Freezing U.S. fuel standards is a gift to China's auto industry", according to Kate Gordon, a non-resident Fellow at the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy and the author of Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.

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President Donald Trump had directed the rethink of the mileage regulations, saying in March 2017, "If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes" were needed.

The 71-year old veteran actor has never held back from criticising POTUS or the White House administration.

"They don't offer any meaningful example of what has changed so dramatically" to warrant the reversal, said Jeff Alson, who until this spring was a senior engineer in the EPA's transportation and air quality office. The argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday.

Now, the Trump administration is proposing to flatline fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emission standards from 2021 to 2026, locking models produced during those years to standards pegged to 2020.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks at UCLA about his efforts to fight the Trump administration's proposal to weaken vehicle efficiency fuel standards in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.

Federal and California officials would soon meet about the proposal, Wehrum said, adding, "All of us want one national program". The affordability argument also ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said.

The administration proposal also would block the many other states that use California standards from moving forward.

More than a dozen states follow California's standards, amounting to about 40 percent of the country's new-vehicle market.

A drawn-out legal battle over the standards could hurt the auto industry as it tries to plan for coming model years. The Clean Air Act authorizes California to adopt emission standards that are more stringent than the federal standards and other states are authorized to adopt those same standards for new motor vehicles sold within their states. "The initiative was said to save "$1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce USA oil consumption by 12 billion barrels", in average fuel savings over the lifetime of a vehicle, according to a White House press release.

"I applaud the Trump administration for proposing new standards for cars and trucks", said Sen.

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