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Maryland Voices Concern about Lower Emission Standards

Transportation is the leading source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. (Pixabay)
Transportation is the leading source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. (Pixabay)
August 3, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Trump administration wants to freeze the fuel-efficiency and emissions standards in 2020, canceling the tougher rules that were set to go into effect for cars produced through 2026.

Supporters of the proposed changes say lower standards would mean more competition among automakers, which could drive innovation in fuel economy more than government regulations.

However, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn says the change overlooks the harm to the environment since vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in the transportation sector.

"Without the federal government acting as a partner in enabling state governments to take positive steps forward, we are not going to be able to address these very serious issues that could potentially have an extraordinary detrimental effect on the future of our planet," he laments.

The proposal would also block California from enforcing its own higher emissions standards for cars, which Maryland and 12 other states have adopted. The change is expected to ease financial pressure on automakers if it moves forward after a 60-day public comment period.

The Trump administration and supporters of lowering the standards argue that low gas prices and a wave of high-efficiency trucks have reduced the need for stricter emissions regulations.

But, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, says air pollution generated by vehicles poses serious consequences for everyone.

"This is absolutely a health and safety issue," he stresses. "We know that reducing air pollution is a direct health hazard and not a theoretical one. This proposal by the administration will result directly in more heart attacks, more asthma attacks, more sick kids, and more spending out of our pockets for sick care."

California and the attorneys general from 16 other states, including Maryland, say they pledge to continue their fight in court against weakening the standards.

Trimmel Gomes/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MD