Another blow for the Donald
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) internal watchdog is opening an investigation into relaxed automotive emissions standards which the Trump Administration claimed was a major victory for deregulation.
The EPA inspector general is reviewing the rule-making process to see whether requirements were met for "transparency, record-keeping, and ...followed the EPA's process for developing final regulatory actions."
Several months ago, the EPA lowered annual emissions improvement targets for passenger cars. An Obama-era rule aimed for 1.5 per cent annual decreases in emissions, the result of increases in gas mileage.
The new lower emissions targets meant automakers could continue to produce less fuel-efficient, more polluting vehicles.
The Trump Administration claimed it would cut the cost of future vehicles by $1000 but the EPA’s analyses suggested that it would create higher costs for consumers and increased deaths from air pollution.
Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement to the New York Times that it must be serious because it is unusual for the EPA’s inspector general to conduct an investigation of the agency’s rule making.
The EPA also announced last year that it would challenge California's emissions authority, which allows the state to set its own higher standards. Presumably this was because the Trump administration was already planning to relax automotive emissions standards, hoping to get the law passed early in the year so it couldn’t easily be repealed should Biden take over as POTUS after the November election.