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How Trump Is Targeting California’s Air Pollution Standards

At stake: The state’s half-century-long right to regulate auto emissions.
What happens if California loses its grip on American tailpipes?
What happens if California loses its grip on American tailpipes?Martin Meissner/AP

California’s ability to create its own fuel efficiency standards for cars sold in the state is under threat, Environmental Protection Agency director Andrew Wheeler confirmed Friday, as are Obama-era fuel standards for cars and light trucks. A proposal, expected to be released as soon as this week from the EPA, would revoke permission granted to California in 2012 by the Obama administration that allows the state to establish its own automotive emission regulations.

A long courtroom battle would surely follow any attempt to end that relationship. But how did California end up with the ability to set its own emissions rules anyway—and what would happen if that suddenly goes way?