The assembly line at a Ford plant in Chicago. Courtesy Ford

President Trump’s battle with California heated up Wednesday with the Environmental Protection Agency‘s revocation of the Golden State’s longstanding authority to regulate auto emissions.

The announcement came as Trump was breakfasting with supporters in Los Angeles before flying to San Diego for another campaign fundraiser.

“The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER,” Trump tweeted just before 8:30 a.m.

The EPA wants to freeze vehicle efficiency standards at 37 miles per gallon in 2021, well below the 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 set by the Obama administration. The higher the standard, the less greenhouse gas emitted per mile of driving.

California sought a compromise of 50 miles per gallon by 2026, and four major automakers — Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW — agreed to honor it. Trump’s Justice Department then announced an antitrust investigation into the deal.

The EPA has argued that allowing more-polluting cars will increase highway safety because they are less expensive and therefore Americans will replace their vehicles more often.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra called the move “reckless” and was expected to announce a lawsuit, while other California lawmakers expressed outrage at both Trump’s action and the rationale behind it.

“His claims about vehicle safety and cost are entirely baseless,” said Rep. Mike Levin, who represents north coastal San Diego County. “Fuel efficient cars meet the same safety standards as other passenger vehicles and have proven to be more cost effective. I will do everything in my power to help stop this reckless decision from taking effect.”

Shannon Baker-Branstetter of the popular Consumer Reports magazine called the Trump administration’s efforts to freeze mileage standards “an expensive waste of time.”

“It is going to fail in court because there’s no legal basis for revoking an existing emissions waiver, but the uncertainty it brings stalls innovation and progress on increasing consumer choices of efficient and electric vehicles,” she said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.