The EPA’s push for dirtier cars is based on old data

But the real fight over the standards might take place between the EPA and California, according to Maria Belenky, who has tracked a number of the EPA’s moves as the director of policy and research for policy shop Climate Advisers.

If a long legal fight breaks out over this, Belenky says, automakers will probably still plan for the stricter Obama era standards in the meantime. “I can completely see a case in 2024 where we are what we are today, where California refused to back down in terms of its own requirements, the manufacturers didn’t want to meet two sets of standards — one in California, one in the rest of the United States — they continue to manufacture cars in line with California standards, and there are lawsuits on either side,” she says. “Delay is actually probably our best friend in this kind of scenario.”

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