Trump Administration Seeks To Freeze Fuel Economy Standards

Aug 05, 2018, 09:27
Trump Administration Seeks To Freeze Fuel Economy Standards

"B$3 y forcing manufacturers to design, produce, and deliver for sale vehicles that produce no tailpipe Carbon dioxide emissions, the ZEV mandate forces further expensive investments in fuel-saving technology than [The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has determined appropriate to require in setting fuel economy standards".

John Graham of Indiana University, who worked on fuel economy regulations during the George W. Bush administration, says some automakers would welcome the Trump administration's aggressive approach. Markey told reporters on a phone conference in response to the administration's proposal Thursday.

"The EPA has handed decision making over to the fossil fuel lobbyists ... the flat-Earthers, the climate change deniers", said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Under this GOP-controlled Congress, that gambit is unlikely to advance.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, calls the new proposal "one of the most significant attacks on clean air and climate action in history".

That calculation could change next year depending on the outcome of the November midterm election.

"That makes a big difference", he said.

"The Obama administration's determination was wrong", said Pruitt.

According to the EPA, its April 2018 evaluation determined fuel economy standards should be revised for model year 2022-2025 vehicles because current standards are allegedly based on outdated information.

The Trump administration is proposing to roll back Obama-era mileage standards that were created to make cars more fuel efficient and reduce pollution. The Sierra Club says the EPA and NHTSA rely on "convoluted and baseless claims" to justify their freezing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels, which would increase gas consumption by up to 500,000 barrels a day, the group says.

Besides halting future increases in fuel economy requirements, the Trump administration also wants to take away California's right to set its own vehicle emissions standards. California, along with dozens of other states, sued the administration in May, challenging the administration's right to revisit the existing rules. Therefore, the Administration is focused on correcting the current standards that restrict the American people from being able to afford newer vehicles with more advanced safety features, better fuel economy, and associated environmental benefits.

Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups argue the move will harm the environment, however. It will nearly certainly face a barrage of legal challenges, but any rollback would be a blow to California's ambitions for limiting planet-warming greenhouse gases. Opponents, including 19 states' attorneys general, have already filed a lawsuit to block the proposal. Using the power of the state office, Brown said he'd fight Trump's "stupidity" in every way possible.

If EPA and NHTSA were to roll back the projected 39.36 mpg national standard for model year 2025 to, say, the 27.52 mpg standard for model year 2016-and should CARB be permitted to keep its requirements at the 39.36 mpg standard-it would lower the effective standard to 23.7 mpg for the 37 states not regulated by CARB.

Perhaps most troubling for state officials, the proposed rules take aim at California's longstanding autonomy in protecting its air quality and public health. "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 America's drivers".

Democrats have called for the auto sector and states like California to reach a compromise on stricter fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson says California has received almost 100 such waivers under the Clean Air Act to implement its own standards over the past 50 years. "Meantime, California remains fully committed to a rigorous 50-state program with a full range of vehicle choices". Carper in a statement noted the administration's "ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory".

However, Thursday's proposal may have undone the goodwill Wheeler appeared to earn at the hearing.