EPA submits final controversial car emissions rule to the White House

The White House is reviewing the final policy that would roll back Obama-era standards for vehicle emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation submitted the finalized  Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule to the White House for review on Saturday, the second-to-last step before the controversial rule is implemented.

“Today, after reviewing hundreds of thousands of public comments and undertaking extensive scientific and economic analyses, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) together have initiated formal interagency review for the draft SAFE Vehicles Final Rule,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

“EPA and NHTSA firmly believe that this rule will benefit all Americans by improving the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, reducing air pollution, helping make new vehicles more affordable for all Americans and, because new vehicles are safer than ever, ultimately saving thousands of lives and reducing the number of Americans seriously injured in car crashes.”

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The final draft of the rule submitted to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will not become public until the rule is complete.

The agencies first submitted their drafts of the vehicle emissions rules for model years 2021-2026 passenger cars and light trucks in August 2018, to immediate backlash.

Environmental groups and lawmakers across the country have criticized the rule for weakening air pollution standards for cars.

The finalization of the rule is expected to be heavily litigated, including through lawsuits threatened by a number of state attorneys general.

News of the rule’s near-imminent implementation comes shortly after California struck a deal with a handful of automakers to keep their emissions cuts in line with the regulations laid out in the Obama-era rule. California had worked hand in hand with the Obama administration to determine stringent air pollution standards for cars. 

The state maintains it has the right to establish its own strong air quality standards under the Clean Air Act, and auto manufactuers have long sought one national standard for vehicles across the country.

EPA and the Department of Transportation said when the rule is finalized it will be a “win for all Americans.”

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