State threatens to sue White House over plan to roll back emissions standards

State threatens to sue White House over plan to roll back emissions standards

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is joining at least 19 other states threatening to sue over a Trump administration proposal to roll back Obama-era vehicle emission standards.

A White House proposal announced Thursday would freeze fuel efficiency requirements for cars set to go into effect in 2020 and beyond.

"Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas," the statement said. "The administration's proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the transportation sector is the nation's largest source of carbon emissions, and cars make up 60 percent of that sector. In 2012, the Obama administration directed automakers to almost double the average fuel economy of new vehicles by 2025. The policy was one of President Barack Obama's efforts to fight global warming.

But in a statement published on The Wall Street Journal's website Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the Obama-era standards would "impose significant costs on American consumers and eliminate jobs."

The 20 state attorney generals see a different issue.

"Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states," a joint statement said.

Climate change poses a big threat to Hawaii. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said last month that Oahu must prepare for a three-foot sea level rise by mid-century, along with the likely flooding of around 4,000 structures.

The state attorney general's office published the following numbers in a news release:

The current federal standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles are estimated to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons;
  • Remove the equivalent of 422 million cars from the road; and,
  • Save drivers $1,650 per vehicle.

If enacted, EPA's proposal to freeze the emissions standards at 2020 levels would:

  • Reduce average fuel economy from an estimated 46.8 miles per gallon in model year 2026 vehicles to 37 miles per gallon;
  • Increase the country’s oil consumption by 5.3 to 11.9 million gallons per day in 2025;
  • Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025; and,
  • Cost Americans roughly $193 billion to $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.

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