Washington — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to leave in place its greenhouse gas emissions standards for light vehicles through the 2025 model year, a quicker-than-expected move that shocked auto industry officials and set up a major fight between the industry and regulators.
The proposal kicks off a 30-day comment period, after which the EPA administrator could finalize a Nov. 30 determination that the standards are achievable and don't need to updated.
Under that timeline, the standards for the 2022 through 2025 model years could take full force before President Obama leaves office on Jan. 20, shoring up one of his signature environmental policies against a potential challenge by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for rolling back or scrutinizing many federal regulations and voiced skepticism about efforts to combat climate change.
The rules would remain vulnerable to changes by Trump or a future administration, which could order the EPA to issue a new rule undoing the current one, but that would be a protracted process, subject to the full complement of notice and comment requirements. And it would mean overturning thousands of pages of agency science underpinning the current standards and surviving an inevitable court challenge from environmental groups.