The Environmental Protection Agency is meeting with California officials this week in Washington to negotiate the creation of a national fuel efficiency standard after the state sued the Trump administration over its proposed easing of the rules.
“We think changes need to be made, and we have started a dialogue with the state of California,” EPA air chief Bill Wehrum told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday.
“And in fact, as we speak, are trying to set up the next discussion with our colleagues at [the California Air Resources Board] for Wednesday,” he said. “They are going to be here for meetings this week, and we’re hoping to get to meet with them while they are here in town.”
California sued the administration preemptively for trying to develop “one national standard” for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in cars and light trucks. The EPA for decades has accommodated California’s more stringent car rules by granting it a waiver, allowing it and other states to follow California rules while abiding by EPA’s separate standards.
President Trump, in talks with automakers last week, directed the EPA to try to work out a deal with California.
Wehrum said that does not mean that the administration is backtracking on its push for a national standard, but shows some changes are needed to the rule.
“To the degree the press reports are saying that’s not a goal, I would say that’s wrong,” Wehrum said when prodded by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.
“But I would say is we think changes need to be made,” he said.
Dingle said she was confused by conflicted media reports that first said the administration would work with California in pursuit of one national standard, but then reported Tuesday that the agency would not.
She said the auto industry needs stability on the fuel economy standards.