States threaten showdown over White House auto emissions plan

Aug 2 (Reuters) - The Trump administration proposed weakening Obama-era federal fuel efficiency standards on Thursday and moved to revoke California's authority to set its own strict tailpipe emissions rules, setting up what will likely be a protracted legal battle between the federal government and U.S. states.

Some 19 states, including California, and Washington D.C. announced that they intend to sue the administration to halt the rollback, which the Trump administration billed as a way to lower vehicle prices for consumers, but which critics said would accelerate climate change and hike pump prices.

"We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan," the coalition of states attorneys, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said in a news release. The states that have adopted California's emission rules together make up abone-thirdhird of the U.S. auto market.

RELATED: Foods that could go extinct due to climate change

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Foods that could go extinct due to climate change
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Foods that could go extinct due to climate change

Avocados

There are many reasons why avocados are more expensive now than ever before, including a farmers' strike. But the biggest threats to avocados are rooted in environmental issues linked to climate change: hot weather and droughts have caused problems everywhere from California to Australia. Avocados are weather-sensitive and slow growing — making them especially susceptible to the effects of climate change. 

(Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Coffee

In September, a report from the nonprofit Climate Institute concluded that the area around the world fit for coffee production would decrease by 50% due to climate change. In addition to dealing with drought, climate change has made coffee crops more vulnerable to diseases like coffee rust, which have wiped out more than a billion dollars in crops. 

(Photo by Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Beer

Warmer and more extreme weather is hurting hops production in the US, reports ClimateWatch Magazine. 

And droughts could mean less tasty drinks. Some brewers fear that a shortage of river water may force them to brew with groundwater — a change that the head brewer at Lagunitas said "would be like brewing with Alka-Seltzer," according to NPR. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

Oysters

Right now, climate change is actually helping oysters, as they grow faster in warmer waters. However, warmer waters also make oysters more susceptible to oyster drills, reports Seeker, citing a recent study in Functional Ecology

Drills are snails that attack and eat oysters. They're already a multi-million dollar problem for the oyster industry that could get worse thanks to warming water temperatures.

(Photo via Getty Images)

Maple syrup

Climate change is already shifting maple syrup tapping season and impacting the quality of syrup, according to Climate Central. Southern producers fear that eventually, areas like Virginia won't get cold enough for maple syrup production, even during the chilliest time of the year. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

Chocolate

Indonesia and Ghana, which have historically had ideal climates for growing cocoa beans, are already seeing decreased yields of cocoa. Chocolate companies, like Mars, have hired meteorologists to study the impact of changing weather patterns and attempt to reduce damage. 

"If climate conditions in these growing areas begin to change over time, it may influence both the supply and quality available of an ingredient that we use in our products," Katie Johnson, a senior manager on the commercial applied research team, told Business Insider in September. "Anticipating what the climate will be like 10, 20, or even 100 years from now is difficult, though the better we can understand what the different climate scenarios and risks to our supply chain are, the more prepared we can be in the future."

(Photo by Charlotte Lake / Alamy)

Lobsters

If ocean waters increase more than five degrees, baby lobsters may not be able to survive, according to research by the University of Maine Darling Marine Center and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, the Guardian reported. 

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that the Gulf of Maine will reach that temperature by 2100. In other words, Maine's lobsters could go from a more than $330 million business to extinct in 84 years. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

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The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision last year to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.

The proposal from the U.S. Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency would freeze fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels through 2026, and require dramatically fewer electric vehicles as more people continue to drive gasoline-powered vehicles.

The administration said the freeze would boost U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the 2030s, and argued it would prevent up to 1,000 traffic fatalities per year by reducing the price of new vehicles and so prompting people to buy newer, safer vehicles more quickly.

Environmental groups criticized the assertion about reducing crash deaths, and said the proposal would drive up gasoline prices and reverse one of the most significant steps Washington has taken to curb climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.

It would also put more lives at risk due to asthma-inducing emissions, they said.

"The clean car standards are already saving our families billions at the pump, supporting nearly 300,000 American jobs, and cleaning up dangerous tailpipe pollution," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We need to speed up that progress, not slide backward."

(Reporting by Joe White and David Shepardson Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel Writing by Richard Valdmanis Editing by Frances Kerry)

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