These changes were expected under the administration of President Donald Trump, who has said that fuel economy standards were imposing greater costs on the average consumer. California and the automakers agreed to the rules in 2012, setting a single national fuel economy standard.
"We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers", said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted California's standards.
The Natural Resources Council of ME said the changes will result in more harmful pollutants drifting into ME - which already has among the nation's highest asthma rates - and "adds insult to injury by also eliminating states' rights to set our own clean auto standards".
"We'll use every tool available to block the Trump administration's U-turn on fuel efficiency", the Massachusetts Democrat said, adding later, "We won't stop until this misguided change is put in the rearview mirror". It would also move to end California's current power to set its own, higher standards.
Longstanding federal legislation has allowed California to set its own mileage standards given the choking smog that still sometimes blankets Los Angeles and other central and Southern California valley cities.
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At issue is the Trump administration's release Thursday of its anticipated proposal to halt regulations tightening vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution standards, laying the groundwork for a nationwide battle over whether the federal government can preempt California's ability to set its own requirements.
"Californians have a right to breathe clean air, and we're not giving that up to President Trump without a fight", Feinstein said. And what the Trump administration is doing in trying to roll those back, it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars more at the pump. It might even cause vehicle prices to stop increasing so rapidly.
Thursday's rule-making proposal from the EPA and NHTSA also presents several other options for modifying the Obama targets, while recommending the proposed freeze starting in 2020, the most severe of the scenarios.
Some Republican lawmakers supported the mileage freeze, but environmental groups and many states assailed it. It also claims that lower new auto prices would mean more folks buying them and moving out of older, less safe cars.
U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach, noted this last week in a post on social media where he cast the White House's plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards as a "bitter misguided attack" on both California and the environment.
Automakers have said they want improved efficiency but also want standards that account for the massive shift from cars to trucks and SUVs.
"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release on Thursday.
"If the United States emissions dropped to zero-that means all electrical generation emissions, all transportation emissions, all manufacturing emissions-if they all went to zero, it would be very hard to see that signal in the global temperature even by the year 2100". "Safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up".