The less stringent standards would apply to model years between 2021 and 2026. Transportation industry researchers have found that fatalities do increase along with the total number of miles driven, and that future auto buyers are apt to drive more if their cars are more fuel-efficient because they would be cheaper to drive, but experts say they see no reason motorists would suddenly start driving their old cars more. And the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that greenhouse gases should be regulated like any other pollutant coming from cars.

On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed freeze on national standards at 2020 levels on cars and light trucks through 2026. That would price many buyers out of the new-vehicle market, forcing them to drive older, less-safe vehicles that pollute more, the administration says.

So far, 19 attorneys general have joined California Attorney General Xavier Bacerra, who has vowed that the state would "use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today's national standards and reaffirm the facts and science behind them", according to a report from The Washington Post.

The Trump administration has proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel-efficient.

The proposal sparked a wave of backlash. Gov. "It could save up to a thousand lives annually by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into newer, safer cars". It would halt requirements that automakers build cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, including hybrids and electric vehicles. The Trump administration and former EPA chief Scott Pruitt had targeted the previous administration's rules practically from the day of Trump's inauguration.

Shifting to a more relaxed standard would have "negligible environmental impacts on air quality", the agencies said in their proposal.

But Republican members of Congress support the Trump proposal.

"The Trump administration's proposal to slam the brakes on America's successful Clean Car Standards is a massive pileup of bad ideas". John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Obama rules were meant to ensure progress made during the Democrat's presidency would extend beyond it. Automakers over the last decade have employed lighter materials and tweaked vehicle design to boost fuel efficiency, changes that have improved mileage on even the biggest USA gas guzzlers. The Trump administration will ask the public to formally submit comments on the rule.

The proposal quickly met with criticism, even from some of the automakers that President Donald Trump has said he wants the plan to help.

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While the chief executives of auto companies a year ago asked Trump to loosen the Obama-era rules, they have since asked him not to pull them as far back as he has sought to do in Thursday's proposal. About a dozen other states set their own tailpipe restrictions as they follow California's lead. "Arnold Schwarzenegger, represented by then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown", Frank said.

"With today's release of the Administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin", the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says in a statement.

The Trump administration yesterday moved to roll back aggressive federal clean-car standards, a decision that likely will increase air pollution in New Jersey and undermine its efforts to curb emissions contributing to climate change, according to critics.

In its scaling-back of the Obama-era rules, the administration is also seeking for the first time to repeal California's unique authority to set different, tighter auto-emissions rules than the rest of the country. Potential litigation could result in uncertainty for manufacturers with respect to vehicle sales in California and other states that adopt California's rules, as permitted by Section 177 of the CAA.

Wehrum acknowledged Thursday that the two agencies had had "long and spirited conversations" as they drafted the rules, and expressed hope that a final deal could eventually be reached with California.

Some middle ground might be possible. "All of us want a national program".

At present, the vehicle industry is on track to meet or exceed the clean auto standards at issue. "That makes no sense".

"That's why we're the only state in the nation to have a waiver from the federal government", says Becerra.

The administration's effort on emissions comes amid global trade tensions.