The Trump administration may be on a mission to curb environmental regulation, but EPA chief Andrew Wheeler revealed Tuesday that its new emissions rules should actually cap CO2 output at a lower levels than those set by the Obama administration.

How? By removing loopholes.

"In some of the out years, we’re actually more restrictive on CO2 emissions than the Obama proposal was," Wheeler said after an address to the Detroit Economic Club, saying that the targets set forth by the previous administration "are not based on reality," describing the loopholes as "off ramps" that make it easier for automakers to comply. 

Wheeler also reiterated that the administration's full plan, which has yet to be fully revealed, will not be identical to what the EPA proposed more than a year ago. That plan called for capping fuel-efficiency standards at a level equivalent to about 37 mpg in real-world measurement.

The EPA chief reiterated the administration's intention to reverse the previous policy, saying it would reduce the cost of new cars, giving consumers more flexibility to purchaser newer, safer vehicles rather than holding on to older ones, Reuters reported

Wheeler also said that the administration is working on new regulations to curtail smog-forming emissions. Whether that's true, or simply rhetoric designed to buttress the administration's threat to withhold federal highway funds from the state of California because it has ostensibly failed to improve its air quality, remains to be seen. 

Meanwhile, the EPA is still attempting to revoke California's authority to regulate fuel efficiency independently of the federal government, in what is likely to be a legal quagmire that will endure for as long as the sitting administration.