Feb. 22 (UPI) — The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would cease discussions with California over future vehicle fuel-efficiency standards.
The White House in a joint statement with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency said it has decided to discontinue discussions with the California Air Resources Board and move forward to finalize the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient, or SAFE, Vehicles Rule.
“The Administration is moving forward to finalize a rule later this year with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles,” the statement read.
The SAFE Vehicles Rule would freeze fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks at 2020 levels, rolling back standards set by the Obama administration to reduce oil imports, slash carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change and improve public health.
In its statement, the Trump administration said California has yet to propose an alternative to the rollback, saying the Obama plans would raise vehicle costs and encourage drivers to keep their older and less-safe vehicles on the road.
“Despite the Administration’s best efforts to reach a common-sense solution, it is time to acknowledge that CARB has failed to put forward a productive alternative since the SAFE Vehicles Rule was proposed,” the administration said.
CARB spokesman Stanley Young told The Washington Post discussions with the EPA heads never truly reached policy negotiations.
“The administration broke off communications before Christmas and never responded to our suggested areas of compromise — or offered any compromise proposal at all,” Young said. “We concluded at that point that they were never serious about negotiating, and their public comments about California since then seem to underscore that point.”
Thursday’s announcement came after the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would cancel $928 million in federal grant funds previously allocated to the California high-speed rail project, saying the state had “materially failed to comply with the terms of the agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom described the decision to cancel the fuel-efficiency negotiations as “another targeted attack” on the state by the administration.
“Clean air should be the most basic of human rights. This is a reckless political stunt that puts the health of MILLIONS of kids, families, and communities across America at risk,” he wrote on Twitter.