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The Trump Administration Finalizes Rollback of Protective Vehicle Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final rule today to dramatically weaken federal clean car standards. As firm client Environmental Defense Fund has analyzed, if the weaker standards are ultimately upheld, they could result in more than 1.5 billion additional metric tons of global warming pollution in our atmosphere by 2040.  Some states, including both Colorado and California, have already announced that they will challenge this regulatory action. 

Today’s action builds on previous efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back protective clean car standards.  Last year, the Administration attempted to rescind the authority the Clean Air Act grants to states to adopt motor vehicle emission standards that are more stringent than federal requirements.  This unprecedented act to take away states’ regulatory authority enshrined in federal statute has been challenged in federal court. 

Assuming those challenges are successful and states’ regulatory authority is upheld, states like Colorado and California that have adopted their own low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards will be insulated from the worst impacts of today’s regulatory rollback.  Over the last two years, our firm has represented environmental and local government interests in administrative and judicial proceedings to adopt and defend such advanced clean car standards for Colorado.  If upheld and implemented, the Colorado standards are expected to save Coloradans significant amounts of money through economic and pollution-reduction benefits, estimated at up to $65 million annually by 2025 and up to $2.2 billion a year by 2040.  The standards are expected to avoid 1 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year by 2025 and up to 7.6 million metric tons annually by 2040, which is equivalent to taking more than 1.6 million cars off of Colorado’s roads in 2040.  The standards will also significantly reduce ozone-forming pollution and harmful particulate pollution, avoiding up to 10 premature deaths annually and 670 lost work days each year by 2050.