(CN) — Scrapping another Trump-era environmental policy, the Biden administration on Thursday dropped plans to roll back vehicle emissions standards and said California and other states could resume with their own rigorous fuel economy rules.
The announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation cements a critical win for California, which can again force automakers to produce cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles to gain access to its lucrative market.
California and a collection of states have been locked in a legal fight over car emissions standards for nearly three years, following then-President Donald Trump’s push to ease regulations on the auto industry. But shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden directed the department to scrap his predecessor’s policy.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the move reflects Biden’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and will help fight climate change.
“The transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in our economy — which means it can and must be a big part of the climate solution,” he said in a statement.
The Trump administration stunned state officials and environmentalists in August 2018 when it proposed rolling back vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards that were intended to nearly double passenger vehicle’s fuel economy and halve their carbon emissions by 2025.
Trump attempted to cast the move as part of his war on red tape, saying it would free companies from regulatory burdens and lead to cheaper cars.
The move incited lawsuits by California and a coalition of prominent environmental groups, but a variety of major automakers welcomed the easing of the Obama-era rules.