Trump administration seeks rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency rules

Make Cars Great Again

EPA moves to scrap Obama-era clean car rules and sets up fight with California

After the EPA announced in April that it intends to remove the Obama-era mileage standard, California and 16 other states sued the EPA to fight the Trump rule change. Under the Obama-era plan, the target was 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Yet for President Donald Trump, who's prioritized eliminating regulations, the auto rules represent a grand prize.

In addition to new fuel economy standards, the EPA is expected to revoke California's right to impose its own emissions standards under the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The states that have adopted California's emission rules together make up about one third of the USA auto market. The administration also says that its preferred plan for fuel economy will reduce society-wide spending by $502 billion for vehicles built between 1975 and 2029.

Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted California's standards.

Most importantly, it also wants to strip California of its unique right to set more restrictive standards than the federal government-a deal written into the Clean Air Act because the state had been regulating smog long before the federal law existed.

Administration officials said the Obama rules added US$2,340 to the cost of owning a new auto and that more Americans have been priced out of the market for new vehicles. "Not only does fuel savings cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but it also covers all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases, including new safety features". At the moment, the state standard and the national one are the same-but if they diverged, automakers could end up making multiple versions of each vehicle to sell in different parts of the U.S. The Trump administration wants to take away California's right to set higher standards.

The Trump administration has moved to weaken United States vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars. Many independent experts are skeptical of these claims.

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In a notice of proposed rulemaking, the EPA and Transportation Department would freeze the standards at 2020 levels through 2026. "Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air".

Environmental groups are already expressing their outrage over the plan. Securing America's Future Energy, a group dedicated to reducing independence on oil, noted that vehicle prices have actually fallen 3 percent since 2013, even as overall inflation increased 8 percent.

"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.

The proposal, called the "Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks", marks Andrew Wheeler's first high-profile rollback as acting EPA chief.

Besides, California - which is essentially now a foreign country - should not control the auto market and decide pollution and mileage standards for the rest of the country.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said much of the criticism was based on "false" news accounts of the proposal. "Safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up. We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

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