WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is planning to revoke California's authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, blocking an environmental effort by the deeply blue state that has long irked President Donald Trump.
An administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a policy not yet announced said the long expected move could come as soon as this week. The president is traveling in California Tuesday and Wednesday for campaign fundraisers.
Environmental Protection Agency officials sent the state a letter last week warning that the tougher emission rules violate federal law. Several other states had considered adopting California's standard and four automakers signed an agreement this summer embracing the lower emission requirements, drawing a sharp rebuke from Trump.
White House aides declined to comment on the possibility of an announcement. EPA officials did not respond to a request for comment. The decision will almost certainly set the stage for a lengthy legal battle. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said the state is prepared to sue.
“It’s time to remove your blinders, President Trump, and acknowledge that the only person standing in the way of progress is you,” Becerra said.
Trump has long taken aim at California's more stringent tailpipe emission standards, which the federal government has allowed under an exemption. The nation's most populous state and Trump have also been engaged in several ongoing disputes.
Trump criticized the state's handling of last year's devastating wildfires. California passed a law in July requiring presidential candidates to make their tax returns public, a clear knock on Trump. More recently, Trump has slammed California for its handling of homelessness in Los Angeles and other cities.
"We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday while en route to California for the fundraisers.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said the White House had "abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world" to address climate change.
“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families," he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Trump administration is intent "on gutting all the environmental gains we've already achieved."
"But we can't allow that to happen," she said. “I trust that this action will be blocked in court.”
Contributing: Ledyard King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump administration to halt California auto emission standards