Trump administration proposes mileage rollback

Aug 05, 2018, 04:14
Trump administration proposes mileage rollback

The administration's proposal, jointly published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers to almost double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of about 54 mpg by 2025.

According to the Trump Administration, the standards implemented by the previous administration raised the cost and decreased the supply of newer, safer vehicles.

The latter move is especially significant for New Jersey, which is one of 12 other states that have adopted California's tougher emission standards, which include mandates to transition to electric vehicles.

Opponents say the result will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death. The proposal says a freeze would save up to 1,000 lives per year and help buyers save more than $2,000 per vehicle.

California, which has long had a waiver from the Clean Air Act to set its own standards, also signed off on the rule.

California and 16 other states filed suit over the fuel efficiency standards in May, anticipating the new regulation.

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The proposed change, halting further improvement requirements, stakes its case on consumer choice and on highway safety claims challenged by many transportation experts. Their proposed rule calls for replacing an aggressive 2012 rule for increasing fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks from 2022 through 2025.

"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to United States roads", said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The government says it will seek public comment for a broader picture of the impact of any mileage freeze.

The 19 states, and Washington D.C, announced they would sue to halt the proposed rollback, touching off what will likely be a heated legal showdown, possibly making it to the Supreme Court. "It's going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump".

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision past year to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.

The debate on fuel economy comes amid friction between the Trump administration and the auto industry due to a Commerce Department review of whether to impose steep tariffs on auto imports. Vehicle expert Simon Mui at the Natural Resources Defense Council says those losses would hit the estimated 200,000 US auto-industry jobs that deal with making vehicles more fuel efficient.

The Trump administration's proposal for freezing USA mileage standards estimates that its action could cost tens of thousands of US auto jobs.

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"They don't offer any meaningful example of what has changed so dramatically" to warrant the reversal, said Jeff Alson, who until this spring was a senior engineer in the EPA's transportation and air quality office. "California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible". That argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday.

Backers of the Obama-era rules dismissed these points, noting that more efficient fuel rules meant consumers would spend less on gasoline, while reducing emissions that cause global warming.

It also reportedly states if fuel efficiency standards are frozen, people will be able to buy newer, heavier and safer vehicles that also pollute less.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint notice of proposed rulemaking today, called the "Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule", that would establish new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for model years (MY) 2021 through 2026 passenger cars and light trucks. The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a auto, opponents of the rollbacks said. About a dozen other states set their own tailpipe restrictions as they follow California's lead. The CARB standards have since been adopted by 12 other states, accounting for 35 percent of the USA auto market, and are on track to reduce America's oil dependence by more than 2 million barrels a day and will effectively eliminate the impact of 59 million vehicles from the road by 2030.

A drawn-out legal battle over the standards could hurt the auto industry as it tries to plan for coming model years.

The proposal would also eliminate a federal waiver that has allowed California to set more stringent clean-car rules.

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