Trump team wants to roll back Obama-era mileage standards

03 August, 2018, 18:16 | Author: Ann Santiago

The administration argues that higher fuel economy standards are a safety risk, claiming that if cars that are more efficient are more expensive, people will be less likely the buy newer cars with improved safety features, and if they spend less on gas, they'd drive more and therefore be at greater risk of crashes. The timeline could then align with the finalization of the fuel efficiency changes, as the proposed rule still needs to work its way through a lengthy public comment process.

Under a 2012 plan, carmakers were required to increase the efficiency of their new models each year, achieving about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

Transport has become the largest sector source of greenhouse gas emissions in the USA, as cheap fuel has encouraged Americans to buy larger vehicles such as SUVs.

California is fighting to keep fuel-efficiency standards in place after the EPA announced the rollback of Obama-era mileage standards.

As vehicle manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say.

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The administration said the proposed rollback would mean billions of dollars in regulatory savings for vehicle manufacturers. Bill Wehrum, an assistant EPA administrator, told reporters on Thursday that many things had changed, including a drop in fuel prices, since the efficiency rules were last set six years ago.

The prospect of an extended legal fight has discomfited automakers, who had asked the administration to relax the Obama-era rules but don't want to see the US market split in two, with different models of cars required in blue and red states. "We applaud the president and the administration for releasing this much anticipated proposal that includes a variety of standards for public consideration", they said.

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change.

The proposed rule acknowledges that it would result in a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in fuel consumption, the equivalent of about half a million barrels of oil per day, and a small increase in global average temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The prices on new cars have become unaffordable to median-income families in every metropolitan region in the United States except Washington, according to an independent study by Bankrate.com. Yet for President Donald Trump, who's prioritized eliminating regulations, the auto rules represent a grand prize.

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"It's an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America's auto industry", said Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release on Thursday. The 2020 standard would be around 32 miles per gallon.

And so what the Trump this is also doing, along with freezing the CAFE standards, is limiting the extent to which states can impose regulations on other states and on manufacturers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said the rollback is "completely unacceptable". "But if not, I'd remind them that California has won this battle before".

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