EPA wants to roll back Obama-era auto efficiency guidelines

Desiree Steele
April 3, 2018

"The Obama Administration's determination was wrong", EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement Monday.

If Pruitt leaves the waiver in place, it would limit the greenhouse gas damage of Trump's reversal; California has such a large market, it effectively sets standards for the rest of the country since many auto manufacturers don't want to produce vehicles that they can't sell in California. It's in everyone's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to working with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard.

Pruitt said that the administration will abandon the federal goal of having the vehicles average 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

The decision opens the door for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to propose lowered corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards, which are used to establish fuel economy for vehicles.

Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. "Our analysis shows that weakening fuel-economy and emissions standards will harm the economy and the auto industry, particularly auto parts suppliers, who employ more than twice as many Americans as auto companies, and who, relying on current standards, have invested heavily in fuel-efficient technologies".

"As the administration tries to take the nation backwards, more than a dozen states - led by California - are pushing ahead, and we hope more will join", Michael Bloomberg, former NY mayor and cochair of a U.S. cities and states coalition pushing ahead on climate action called America's Pledge, said in a statement. The EPA is also targeting the California waiver. A senior Honda official, talking on background, took the same position, not only pointing to what is happening globally but also noting that the Japanese automaker would be reluctant to shift direction only to see a new, Democratic administration come in three years from now and again toughen CAFE, forcing a costly reversal.

The decision comes at a time when cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation are the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, surpassing climate pollution from the power sector for the first time in 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration. A dozen states have. However, it could also set up a situation where vehicles sold in the US have fewer emissions restrictions, higher performance, reduced MPG and lower cost. "EV and hybrid sales account for a miniscule 3 percent or less of the entire new-car market annually".

California officials have already threatened to sue the Trump administration on this issue. "I understand California's role in this process", he said in mid-March. The tone between state air regulators and the EPA chief has grown increasingly tense, with Pruitt signaling he may try to revoke the state's Clean Air Act waiver, an unprecedented and legally risky move that has the potential of leaving the auto industry with years of uncertainty.

"This backwards decision", he continued, "will pollute our air, increase costs at the pump, and fuel climate change, but Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump don't care because it will keep their corporate cronies happy". Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a statement. It cites a drop in oil prices, the slow adoption of electric vehicles, the rise in sales of SUVs and trucks, as well as fear that consumers will wind up paying more for highly efficient vehicles. "Maintaining a single national program is critical to ensuring that cars remain affordable", the group said in a statement. "Although changing, today, vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Sierra sell especially well in North American, so the prospect of looser emissions rules here in the United States will likely to benefit those who buy and sell full-size pickups and truck-based SUVs, vehicles sold on the promise of size, power, towing capability and off-road ability". And if the standards were protected instead of undermined, consumers could expect to save a lot more over the next decade.

The fuel standards "didn't comport with reality", he said, noting that mandated standards were simply set "too high". "This is auto mechanics, not rocket science". "So far, when we have been challenged on environmental standards we have had a good record in court. Consumers may be priced out of the market, forcing a buyer to purchase a used auto or keep an existing, less clean vehicle longer, further delaying the greening of the fleet".

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