The Trump administration will take steps to try to block California from setting its own vehicle emissions standards, the head of the US environmental regulator has said, as the row between the federal government and the state over green regulations intensifies.

Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said on Tuesday that the national government would move to prevent California enacting tougher standards than President Donald Trump plans to impose on a national level.

President Barack Obama granted California special licence to set it own emissions rules in 2013. And after the Trump administration said last year it intended to roll back Mr Obama’s national standards, the state said it would continue to apply them anyway.

That prompted a long-running fight with the Trump administration, which has criticised the California rules even as several multinational carmakers have backed them.

In recent weeks, the Department of Justice has launched a competition investigation into Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen, which have all said they will comply with the tougher Californian standards.

Mr Wheeler said on Tuesday, however, the Trump administration would now look to prevent the state from continuing to apply those regulations at all.

He said: “We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation.

“So we will be moving forward with one national standard very soon. We will be taking joint action with the Department of Transportation to bring clarity to the proper — and improper — scope and use of the Clean Air Act pre-emption waiver.”

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Via Financial Times