EPA move to revoke California vehicle emissions waiver generates bipartisan outrage

E.A. Crunden

E.A. Crunden Reporter, Think Progress

A bipartisan group of nearly 70 lawmakers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve a waiver allowing California to regulate its own vehicle efficiency standards, which the Trump administration has threatened to revoke.

In a letter sent to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday, 68 House members urged the agency to halt plans they say could severely impact public health, Politico first reported Thursday.

Under the Clean Air Act, California has historically been allowed to set its own air pollution standards for new motor vehicles if granted an EPA waiver. The state’s stronger standards have been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia, which the letter’s signatories argue collectively represent more than 35 percent of the U.S. population and 1 in every 3 cars sold in the country.

The letter, shared with ThinkProgress, argues that “hundreds of thousands of premature deaths” have been prevented thanks to the stronger standards, along with “hundreds of millions of cases” of diseases relating to respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

“Thanks to these high standards, many states have significantly reduced pollutants like health-threatening smog and soot, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change,” the letter continues. “Automakers and their suppliers have risen to the challenge of achieving technology-driving standards.”

Last spring, the Trump administration announced it would seek to weaken fuel efficiency standards, an effort that has broadly been seen as an attack on California directly. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia promptly sued in May, arguing that the EPA’s efforts flew in violation of the Clean Air Act, along with the Administrative Procedure Act and the agency’s own clean car regulations.

But in August, the EPA nonetheless formally proposed freezing federal fuel economy standards at 2020 levels across the country.

Expressing disappointment in the Trump administration’s decision “to replace strong federal standards based on sound science,” the lawmakers argued in Tuesday’s letter that revoking California’s waiver would threaten air quality and undermine the right of states to protect their residents.

“The purpose of this letter is to convey our strong bipartisan request that you do not revoke California’s waiver or in any other way undermine states’ rights to protect their citizens from air pollution,” lawmakers conclude.

The letter’s signatories include several Republican members of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus (CSC), which has attracted controversy and derision from green groups. Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen joined New York Reps. Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik, along with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) in signing.

A number of Republican CSC members, however, did not sign, including 10 from states that follow California’s vehicle standards.

Under the current standards the EPA is seeking to roll back, carbon emissions are expected to decrease by 6 billion tons. That in turn will greatly reduce oil costs and save consumers around  $1.7 trillion in fuel expenses.

Widespread outrage has greeted the Trump administration’s intention to revoke California’s popular waiver. In addition to harming public health, experts and advocates have expressed concern that the rollback will benefit oil companies, many of whom have lobbied against harsher fuel standards over fear that they will cut into current oil consumption. Under the new rules, U.S. oil demand is expected to increase by 500,000 barrels per day.

Public comments on the proposal will close October 23. The EPA has said it expects to adopt the new fuel economy rules by March, although it seems lawmakers remain undeterred, despite the continuing outcry.

In another letter sent Wednesday to Wheeler and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) similarly urged both officials to reverse course in their efforts to undermine Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards. The senator noted that if a number of “significant deficiencies” within the current proposal are not remedied, it is likely that intensive litigation will follow.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work