- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The White House announced it’s opening a review into fuel efficiency standards set in place by the previous Barack Obama administration — and you know what that means, don’t you?

Environmental groups are gearing to fight. And it’s gonna get nasty — “ready to rumble” nasty.

President Donald Trump is expected to roll back rules requiring manufacturers to make sure vehicles produced in the 2022-2025 model years have at minimum, 36-miles-per-gallon capacities. Currently, the standard is 26 miles per gallon.

The EPA upped those standards in January, as part of Obama’s final, lame-duck policy pushes. A spokesman for Trump said the EPA, in doing so, ignored “a voluminous record of data” with regard to emission controls and as such, the White House is “going to pull back” on the policy “because we don’t think it’s right and we’re going to spend another year looking at the data in front of us.”

That means rules set in place by Obama are now being delayed by a year or so by Trump — at least. Trump could also outright kill the whole Obama-EPA fuel standard and, on top of that, trash the waivers in place for California and other states that allow them to set their own fuel standards for the auto industry.

That’s the stage for an epic legal showdown.

The Clean Air Act gives California the right to obtain EPA waivers that let it establish its own emission standards, above and beyond what the feds require. Other states are then free to go by California’s standards, or the EPA‘s. Several states in recent years have adopted the stricter controls coming from California.

The auto industry is pushing hard for a widespread relaxation of rules, saying the fuel efficiency standards alone put in place by Obama in January could lead to the loss of a million jobs. And Trump has sent strong signals he agrees with auto manufacturers, telling them environmental regulations have spun “out of control” and vowing a White House fix.

But California’s got Eric Holder to help fight the feds on this. The former attorney general was retained state as a legal adviser, reportedly to the tune of $25,000 — taxpayer dollars — per month. Holder’s role in California’s government may or may not be constitutional; Republicans in the state say the ex-Obama chief has no legal business taking tax dollars to fight the new administration and that his presence violates the California Constitution’s civil-service employee law.

But Democrats are looking at Holder, a Washington insider with a vicious partisan bite, as a go-to leadership source of all-things-anti-Trump the state may take to court. Expect a major battle on fuel standards, orchestrated by Holder and pushed by radicals on the left.

“Making this U-turn on fuel economy is the wrong way to go for our security, economy and environment,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in a statement.

“This change makes no sense,” said the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.

Oh, but it does. The EPA, for the last eight years especially, has run roughshod over consumers, property owners and businesses, and the fact Trump’s White House is taking quick steps to reel in its power is not only sound economic policy, because it unleashes the country’s ability to grow and produce. But it’s also a breath of fresh air that’s called freedom — something that’s been lacking in federal policy, particularly federal EPA policy, for some time now.

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