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Cars in Las Vegas traffic on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Governor’s Office of Energy released a joint statement Friday criticizing the Trump administration’s decision to undo Obama-era vehicle emission standards.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration completed a federal rulemaking process to roll back fuel efficiency standards approved during the Obama administration. The Obama rule required car manufacturers to average 54 miles per gallon by 2025 for their fleets. The new Trump rule reduces that fuel efficiency standard to 40 miles per gallon.

The state agencies said the new rule was a setback for efforts to address climate change, in addition to costing drivers more at the gas station.

“With transportation-related emissions now representing the greatest share of greenhouse gases in Nevada, the administration’s decision to roll back clean car standards is an unfortunate step backwards,” the statement said. 

On Friday, Attorney General Aaron Ford tweeted that his “office couldn’t agree more.”

The Trump administration’s action to reduce one of the Obama administration’s major efforts to tackle air pollution and climate change comes as states across the country have turned their attention to addressing an acute public health crisis: the coronavirus.

Brian Beffort, who directs the Sierra Club’s Toiyabe Chapter, said in a statement that “the Trump Administration should be ashamed for exploiting the cover of a pandemic to roll back the clean car standards, which are crucial public health safeguards.”

“As families face a growing health and economic crisis, Donald Trump and [EPA Administrator] Andrew Wheeler’s action endangers communities, exacerbates the climate emergency, and takes money out of people’s wallets,” he added.

The Trump administration has argued that the rule will make cars more affordable, even after factoring increased fuel costs. The New York Times reported that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the new rule meant “millions of new vehicles will be more affordable to consumers, more will be sold, and this will be good for the economy, as well.”

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