The head of the EPA is pushing back against California when it comes to fuel economy rules.

For the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency has gotten softer on fuel economy targets. It has reopened and increased the length of fuel economy rule reviews and draft legislation has leaked that shows the agency is looking at cutting fuel economy regulations.

But while the EPA softens, California’s Air Resources Board has been pushing harder. CARB has released its own reports that say increasing fuel economy and reducing automotive emissions is costing automakers less than expected. That means that the existing targets are not only feasible but will save consumers money.

California is also looking at adding $3 billion in incentives to EV and plug-in buyers as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s target of hitting one million zero-emission vehicles on state roads by 2022.

CARB is going to court to pursue the old regulations. The attorney general made that request last year. Governor Brown has made statements about keeping the state’s clean air policy in place, and CARB chair Mary Nichols has said that the state would vehemently oppose federal changes relaxing the standards.

California is the only state which can seek waivers to federal emissions laws, although 16 other states have adopted California’s standards.

Now, EPA boss Scott Pruitt is pushing back at California regulators.

SEE ALSO: California Won’t Back Down From Clean Car Rules After Trump’s Decision

“California is not the arbiter of these issues,” Pruitt told Bloomberg. “(California) shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.”

Pruitt argued that the CAFE economy standards were pushing buyers away from new cars, and into keeping older vehicles.

“The whole purpose of CAFE standards is to make cars more efficient that people are actually buying,” Pruitt said. “If you just come in and try to drive this to a point where the auto sector in Detroit just makes cars that people don’t want to purchase, then people are staying in older cars, and the emission levels are worse, which defeats the overall purpose of what we’re trying to achieve.”

CARB’s Nichols said that the state is willing to look at new standards with the EPA, but only if the new rules extend beyond 2025. California’s own standards extend to 2030. Pruitt has said that the EPA will not set rules that far out.

“Being predictive about what’s going to be taking place out in 2030 is really hard,” Pruitt said. “I think it creates problems when you do that too aggressively. That’s not something we’re terribly focused on right now.”

The latest from Pruitt suggests that a showdown is coming between the EPA and CARB. The EPA has until April 1st to decide if Obama-era fuel economy standards for 2022-2025 are attainable or if they should be revised. The Trump administration has already discarded an EPA report from January last year that said no changes were needed.

[Source: Bloomberg]