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Easing auto emissions rules would set back CT clean-air efforts

What got Blumenthal’s eyes to widen and had him energetically taking notes that afternoon in a spare New Haven City Hall conference room, was something said by Bill Dornbos, who runs the Connecticut office of the regional group Acadia Center. Dornbos – who is a lawyer – told Blumenthal that it would be pretty easy for Trump to get rid of the “California waiver.”

That bit of environmental wonk jargon, part of major revisions to the Clean Air Act in 1970, allows California to set its own stricter-than-federal standards for motor vehicle emissions. It also allows other states to use California’s standards instead of the federal ones.

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Neither is improving. Greenhouse gas emissions went up 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2015, and probably even more in 2016, according to calculations from publicly available data done by Acadia Center, which attributes the rise primarily to the transportation sector. With gas prices low, driving is up dramatically in Connecticut along with sales of larger, less efficient vehicles.

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And Acadia’s Dornbos said all options are on the table for them, including litigation. “We will not leave the future health and prosperity of Connecticut and the Northeast to arbitrary federal decisions that ignore basic science and the law,” he said.