OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Claiming, without proof, that future cars will be cheaper and safer, the President says he intends to revoke California's ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards, something the state has done for more than 50 years.
President Donald Trump tweeted his intention to wipe out the permission, granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act, that has enabled California to determine how much pollution cars may emit.
Because of California's 35 million registered vehicles, which account for 29% of all greenhouse gases, it's a provision that has become the national standard.
California Governor Gavin Newsom responded by saying:
"California's leadership and expertise and the presence of serious air pollution concerns in our state are among the reasons why Congress granted our state the authority to combat our air pollution by setting our own standards for vehicle emissions way back," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
However, every time the state sets a new pollution standard, it must get permission from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We have been granted 100 waivers. Never has one been rejected," said Attorney General Becerra.
An attempt to do a similar denial was advanced by the George W. Bush Administration, only to fail in court twelve years ago.
"The EPA has sometimes stalled, we've sometimes had to push, we once went to court, but we have never had a situation where there was suddenly a change of mind about what to do," said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols.
The state intends to challenge this too.
"We're prepared to lead. We'll prepare to fight. We'll do what we must," said Becerra.
"This is the fight of a lifetime for us. We have to win this and I believe we will," said Nichols.
"He's losing and we're winning because we have the law, science and facts on our side," said Newsom.
Newsom says although several auto makers have already agreed to uphold higher California emission standards, others are pausing after meeting with the U.S, Justice Department.
"They called in these same companies and threatened their business models," said Newsom.
Newsom further says that in the unlikely event California does not prevail, no tighter standards could not be established, but they would simply revert to the strict standards already adopted by the Obama Administration.