People looking to the federal EPA to save the country from California emissions standards are actually going to make things even worse.

EPA head Scott Pruitt announced the agency plans to abandon strict national fuel efficiency standards imposed by the Obama administration. The EPA is also considering eliminating a waiver that allows California to impose stricter standards than the rest of the country.

“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country… It is in America’s best interest to have a national standard.” Pruitt said.

A lot of conservatives support this move because California is such a major player in the U.S. auto market. Not only that, 15 other states have adopted its stricter standards, and about 40 percent of the market is currently under California’s more stringent fuel efficiency requirements.

Conservatives have fought the agency’s policies for decades, but now that somebody favorable to their point of view has control, they are suddenly hungry for the enforcement of national standards.

Some people argue the federal government can impose national fuel efficiency standards under the commerce clause. But even if the Constitution allows the feds to change things on California, they shouldn’t.

Eventually, if you force a national standard the way the conservatives want, the liberals will be left with no choice but to put all their efforts into doing the same. At some point, you will almost certainly get stricter standards – and they won’t just apply to 15 states.

The smart approach would be to leave these decisions – like most every other – to the will of the people of the several states.

The problem here is pretty straightforward – under the Constitution, the EPA shouldn’t even exist. If it didn’t, there would be no national standard. Every state would set its own requirements.

Mike Maharrey

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