Larry Hogan opposes Trump rollback of car emissions standards

The Hogan administration is joining several other states in opposing President Donald Trump’s move to relax vehicle emissions standards.

Ben Grumbles, the state’s secretary of the environment, signed a letter this week expressing “deep concern” that the federal government could weaken the standards for greenhouse gas emissions.

“Any weakening of the standards would increase pollution from cars and light trucks, with adverse public health and environmental impacts,” wrote Grumbles and his counterparts from Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The letter was sent to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday, the day that Pruitt announced he wanted to revise the emissions standards, which were set during President Barack Obama’s tenure.

“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement. He said Obama’s EPA cut the rules process short “with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

The state environmental officials, in their letter, said the EPA actually could enact stronger standards on the grounds that emissions-reduction technology is improving at a rapid pace.

“States and our nation need to continue to increase efforts to reduce air pollutant emissions, and cars and trucks are among the largest source of these contaminants,” the state officials wrote.

The emissions standards would go into effect for “light-duty” vehicles — consumer cars and trucks — for model years 2022 through 2025.

The EPA sets emissions standards for vehicles, but California has a waiver that allows it to adopt stricter standards. States can elect whether to follow the California standards or the federal standards.

Pruitt said he’s examining California’s waiver.

“It is in America’s best interest to have a national standard and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard.” Pruitt said.

Maryland’s decision to sign onto the letter opposing the emissions standards change is the latest in a series of moves by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan against environmental decisions made under Trump.

Hogan lobbied for funding the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, opposed a plan for offshore drilling for gas and oil, threatened to sue the federal government for allegedly failing to enforce smokestack emissions in other states and joined jurisdictions across the country in agreeing to support the goals of the Paris climate accord after Trump pulled out of it.

pwood@baltsun.com

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