California governor: Trump 'threatening' private business

Gavin Newsom slams rollback of emissons standards

By Caroline Kelly and Kate Sullivan, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

California Governor Gavin Newsom says he will not capitulate on the Trump administration's move to end California emissions standards.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed the Trump administration and Republicans for their "complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise" in light of President Donald Trump's decision to curtail state-set emissions standards.

"They're calling private sector corporations to the mat and threatening them," Newsom, a Democrat, told CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday night on "CNN Tonight."

"I don't think this, I know this from the personal conversations I've had and by the actions of the Department of Justice," he continued. "What happened to the Republican Party?"

Newsom, who frequently spars with the President, made the comments as Trump scraps with California's Democratic officials over auto-emission standards and the state's homeless crisis. Earlier this month, the Trump administration opened an antitrust investigation into four auto companies -- Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen -- that agreed with the state of California to raise their fuel economy standards in coming years.

"Federalism be damned; state rights, 10th Amendment be damned; Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon be damned," Newsom said Wednesday when asked why he thought a Republican administration was exerting its power over a state-level decision -- traditionally a cornerstone of conservative policy.

Newsom pointed to Reagan's efforts as the state's governor in 1967 to address smog in Los Angeles, arguing that it led to the bipartisan Clean Air Act signed by Nixon, a fellow California Republican, in 1970.

"They'd be rolling in their graves right now of what the Republican administration is doing," Newsom said. "And moreover, what the Republican Party is doing -- complicit, complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise."

Trump, who is in the state on a fundraising trip, announced on Wednesday that he was revoking California's authority to set its own vehicle emission standards. California's waiver under the Clean Air Act allowed it to set standards tighter than the federal government's, which have been adopted by more than a dozen states and became the de-facto nationwide standard because automakers do not design different sets of vehicles to meet standards in different states. The state's attorney general threatened a lawsuit if the administration goes through with the plan.

Outrage over Trump's rollback of environmental regulations and his administration's deportation policies and vilification of undocumented immigrants, among other policy disagreements, has led the state to file 59 lawsuits against the federal government since Trump took office.

The Trump administration has long been at odds with California, a state that prides itself as the center of the resistance to his agenda, especially on environmental issues. Trump has pledged to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a global deal to curb emissions, and has sought to increase fossil fuel output by fracking on public lands and drilling offshore. He's greenlit new pipelines, and now he's rolling back regulations meant to make cars and trucks more fuel efficient.

CNN's Kevin Liptak, Gregory Wallace, Zachary B. Wolf, Fredreka Schouten, Maeve Reston and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

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