Trump Administration Rolls Back Fuel Economy Standards For Cars

Make Cars Great Again

Advocacy groups display silhouettes of children meant to represent Americans hurt by air pollution at a protest of the administration's proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards outside the EPA in Washington, Aug. 2, 2018.

The administration said vehicle manufacturers would benefit from the proposed rollback, but the USA auto industry is pushing for a negotiated settlement between states and the administration to lift uncertainty over the kinds of cars and trucks it will need to produce for the American market in the coming years.

Seventeen states filed a lawsuit against the EPA in May after it announced plans to roll back auto emission standards and the agency is sure to face vigorous pushback over the proposal published today.

Opponents are concerned about the rollback's effects on air quality.

Using an open-source, peer-reviewed digital tool called the Energy Policy Simulator, Energy Innovation modeled the impact of the proposed changes.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

Trump's plan also undercuts California's long-standing ability to set its own tailpipe restrictions, most recently in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

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Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say. The federal government has issued a waiver for years so that California can set higher mileage standards than the rest of the country.

"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. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment". Becerra vowed Thursday to fight the White House's proposed changes, along with attorney generals from 18 other states. The Obama-era standard mandated that automobiles sold by vehicle companies have to reach 50 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025.

This proposal will now go to a public comment period followed by federal agency analysis, so it's unlikely any change will become law before late winter.

Alson said, according to his own calculations, the savings for someone buying a new auto with a loan was $158 a month, but the report acknowledges that consumers would "purchase somewhat more fuel", about five gallons a month during the first year of owning a vehicle.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a main industry group, sought to stave off any dispute between California and the federal government that could split the USA auto market: "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of American drivers". "But if not, I'd remind them that California has won this battle before".

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