By Chris White
More than 90 prominent conservatives signed a letter Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to push forward on major reforms to a California program created decades ago to regulate fuel consumption.
Former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and tax reformer Grover Norquist were among a slew of conservatives to encourage dramatic changes to the state’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Trump believes California’s regulations hurt businesses and citizens.
“CAFE standards were established in 1975 during a time of grave national concern over fuel scarcity and America’s reliance on imported energy,” the letter notes. “[A] review of the purpose and effectiveness of existing CAFE standards is long overdue.”
The letter also notes that the “2012 standards are proving too ambitious, costly, and simply not viable for automakers from a practical or safety standpoint,” before highlighting reports from the National Auto Dealers Association showing mandates “increase the cost of vehicles by an average of $3,000.”
Trump etched out a proposal in July seeking to remove California’s ability to set its own standards. The move will effectively cap federal fuel economy requirements at 2020 levels, which under current law requires at least a 35-mpg average.
Former President Barack Obama placed the level at roughly 50 mpg by 2025. The Golden State got permissions from the Obama administration to issue its own higher emissions standards. They require cars get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The rules would cut 540 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save consumers money, according to some estimates.
California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has painted himself as one of Trump’s chief antagonists.
Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill in September effectively prohibiting new federal offshore oil drilling along California’s coast, and announced that he opposes plans to expand crude exploration on public lands in the state.
The legislation blocks the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling through the prohibition on new leases for new construction of oil and gas-related infrastructure, such as oil pipelines.
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