Trump's EPA argues more people will die in car accidents unless California fuel rules are weakened

The Trump administration is embracing a curious — and some would say dated — argument as it builds its case to weaken federal rules championed by California that require cars and SUVs to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

It is warning that the fuel-efficiency targets, seen by most as key to meeting climate and air quality goals in California and nationwide, could actually end up killing people.

Taking a cue from auto dealers and free-market think tanks skeptical of mainstream global warming science, President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is tossing aside reams of federal and California data showing the fuel economy standards are perfectly safe. Instead, Pruitt's directive this month to potentially scale back the fuel standard says "an important factor" is the need to reexamine safety issues.

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