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Malloy pledges fight for clean air

September 21, 2018

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday joined California and Maryland in pledging to fight President Donald Trump’s plan to rollback auto emissions standards.

“We are all getting ready for what’s coming,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We are not ready to take a punch, we are ready to counter-punch.”

During a conference call with reporters, Malloy, Becerra and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said their states and others will sue the Trump administration over an expected rollback of auto emissions standards by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA recently announced intentions to eliminate a waiver granted to California in the 1970s that allowed the state to set higher emissions standards to combat a growing smog and pollution crisis.

The Trump administration also plans to rollback national car emissions standards that followed California’s waiver. The new mandate for cars and light trucks would be 37 miles per gallon as opposed to the 54.5 miles per gallon set by former President Barrack Obama’s administration.

“Our air gets to Connecticut from Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and when it gets here it’s already polluted,” Malloy said.

“The EPA wants to take away the tools to offset that pollution and there is no way this meets any reasonable standard,” Malloy said. “That’s what we will test in the courts if need be.”

Frosh said Maryland is also prepared for battle.

“We don’t know what the EPA will decide but it’s clear they are trying to reduce standards nationwide,” Frosh said. “It flies in the face of science and conflicts with the facts.”

Smog and health

Debate over auto emissions standards began in the early 1970s when California was suffering from thick smog that blanketed much of the southern part of the state.

The state was granted a waiver from the EPA to set higher auto emissions standards to reduce the pollution. Connecticut and 13 other states later adopted those stricter standards.

Over the decades — in part so automakers didn’t have to build cars that met varying state rules — national standards were adopted.

The proposed Trump plan would stop states from setting higher gas mileage standards and establish lower national emissions standards.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in August that freezing mile per gallon standards strikes “the right regulatory balance” between cost, safety and environmental concerns.

California sees the issue much differently, Becerra said.

“For most of us, this is an issue about leaning forward not backsliding, not about doing business like we did in the last century,” Becerra said. “Making our communities and environment cleaner and safer is a must.”

‘In a bubble’

Becerra said the current emissions standards are “based on a mountain load of evidence and scientific data” and will not be easy to scrap.

“For the federal government to think it can overturn decades of standards is to live in a bubble, and think you don’t have to go through a legal process,” Becerra said.

Malloy said the Trump plan takes away the “tools” needed clean the air and protect at-risk residents, such as the elderly and children.

“It makes no sense,” Malloy said. “We just need to protect ourselves and we need the federal government to stop taking those tools away from us.”

Malloy added if a Democratic administration with “so little science fact” tried a similar rollback it would be quickly rejected by federal courts.

“I don’t know what court packing will do,” Malloy said, referring to Trump placing conservative judges on federal courts. “But the president dictates to others, they execute, and then don’t do the science work that is necessary.”

bcummings@ctpost.com

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