States going to court to challenge mileage rule

Aug 04, 2018, 02:17
States going to court to challenge mileage rule

The Trump administration on Thursday announced plans to freeze fuel efficiency requirements for the nation's cars and trucks through 2026 while moving to undercut the ability of states - including ME - to set their own tailpipe emissions restrictions.

At issue is the Trump administration's release Thursday of its anticipated proposal to halt regulations tightening vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution standards, laying the groundwork for a nationwide battle over whether the federal government can preempt California's ability to set its own requirements.

"California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible", Governor Edmund Brown, a Democrat, said in a news release on Thursday.

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In an analysis of the proposed freeze, the researchers at the Rhodium Group noted that future oil prices would play a major role in determining the overall effect of the relaxed standards, since higher oil prices push consumers into smaller, more fuel-efficient cars (though of course, modern crossovers are quickly closing the fuel-economy gap on sedans). California, 16 states and the District of Columbia have already filed a lawsuit that challenges the plan's scientific underpinnings. "It's going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump".

Those states have said they'll sue to keep their emissions standards on the books. Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said consumers could save between $3,200 per auto and $4,800 per truck over the life of the vehicle under that standard, and that they would save even more if gas prices go up.

President Donald Trump had directed the rethink of the mileage regulations, saying in March 2017, "If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes" were needed. Under the Obama administration, automakers were required to reach a fleetwide average fuel economy for all cars and light trucks of 51.4 miles per gallon by 2025. A dozen other states and Washington DC also follow higher standards. "Households don't have a choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices at the dealership, whether it's a vehicle, truck or SUV". It might even cause auto prices to stop increasing so rapidly. That argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday.

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The proposal argues that freezing the Obama-era standards at 2020 levels through 2026 will save consumers money and increase safety on the nation's roads. "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".

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable.

Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Heidi King said the average vehicle on the road in the 12 years old and that the proposed rule would mean fewer accidents and injuries.

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During an earnings conference call last week, General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra repeatedly emphasised the need for a single national standard on fuel economy. They've argued that the Obama-era standards Trump proposes to sweep aside are outdated, established when the USA was over-reliant on foreign oil, and that they don't reflect huge increases in US exports of crude oil and petroleum products since then. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.