Quebec Environment Minister Isabelle Melançon is urging her federal counterpart to push back against efforts by the Trump administration to water down tailpipe pollution rules for new vehicles.

In a newly-released letter, Melançon told federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna that the regulations, adopted by the Obama administration, are an "essential" part of meeting the climate change goals of both the federal and provincial governments.

"As you know, Quebec has the firm intention of meeting the greenhouse gas reduction targets that it set," she said in the letter. "There is no doubt that reducing consumption of fossil fuels will take up an important part of our concerted efforts in this direction."

The regulations were adopted by the former Harper government in tandem with the United States. At the time, the Canada's federal Environment Department said that under the new system, 2025 vehicles would consume 50 per cent less fuel than 2008 vehicles.

But these targets, set for new cars and light trucks between 2022 and 2025 are now at risk after the Trump administration announced on April 2, that it wanted to weaken the standards that would require manufacturers to lower emissions by about five per cent each year.

As a result of America's possible withdrawal, the federal government is now reconsidering its own adherence to the tailpipe pollution policy.

'No real reason' for Trump's actions

British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington state have all been critical of the decision to revise the regulation made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“There appears to be no real reason for Trump to do that – it’s an affordable technology, it benefits consumers and it helps address climate,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman told National Observer in an interview in April.

“Those standards were agreed to by automakers in 2012, they’ve been preparing for this…They have technology that is feasible at a very reasonable cost. It will reduce emissions, and it will lower the cost of fuel for consumers.”

Two days after the U.S. announced its review, McKenna said she had a "great call" with California Gov. Jerry Brown about the situation, and was looking forward to continuing to work together on cleaner cars and smarter fuel economy standards.

California, the District of Columbia and a coalition of 16 other states have since launched a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its plan to rollback on tailpipe pollution.

Federal officials reviewing Trump's decision

Asked about Melançon's new call for resistance, McKenna's office echoed her willingness to work collaboratively with U.S. states on clean energy, but said the federal government is also reviewing the impacts of Trump's actions.

"Cleaner cars are a key part of our plan to meet or beat our Paris climate goals," said McKenna's spokeswoman Caroline Thériault in a statement emailed to National Observer. "Cleaner cars mean lower fuel costs for consumers, less pollution, and healthier living standards for Canadians."

Thériault also noted that transportation accounts for almost a quarter of Canada's greenhouse gas pollution, which makes it important to have "smart" tailpipe rules for cars and trucks to reduce their emissions.

"We are paying close attention to the U.S. mid-term review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and to the actions of California and other like-minded U.S. states," she added. "Last month, Minister McKenna spoke with California's Gov. Brown to discuss our shared goal to fight climate change and promote clean transportation.

"When we first adopted these rules in 2012, we committed to conducting our own mid-term evaluation following the U.S. review. We will carefully consider environmental and economic impacts during that review."

Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of Quebec environmental group, Équiterre, said his organization supports Melançon's position.

"Canada must maintain the greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles in order to meet our target under the Paris Agreement," Guilbeault said on Twitter.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

Subscribe

Comments

Today's must read