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PA Prepares To Sue Over Expected Trump Vehicle Emission Changes

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) -- The Wolf administration is voicing concerns that the federal government will reduce states' abilities to use a vehicle emission standard that's tougher than the federal one.

Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states that abides by California's separate standards. Under Barack Obama's administration, federal emission targets for vehicles were ramped up to match the west coast state's more aggressive ones.

Currently, Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency guidelines will require cars and light trucks to get 50 miles to the gallon by 2025. Required miles per gallon are slated to rise incrementally.

But the EPA is now expected to propose freezing the ramp-up in 2020, which would mean halting the requirement at 35 miles per gallon from 2020 to at least 2026.

The plan may also rescind California's ability to set its own emission standards--something the state has been able to do since the Clean Air Act was first passed in 1970, because its standards predated federal ones.

Pennsylvania adopted California's standards in 2006.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said the commonwealth doesn't intend to give them up.

"This would be the first time the federal government has really taken on California's authority to do this, which is, as much as anything, a states' rights issue," he said.

The Trump administration's proposal comes after a federal study found higher emissions standards would make cars more expensive and might make people compromise on safety.

A similar study done under Obama found the opposite--that higher standards would ultimately save money and not impact safety.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said if emissions standards are indeed rolled back, he plans to file suit against the federal government.