EPA, DOT Proposes Changes to Fuel Economy Standard

The nation's automotive manufacturers welcomed the rollback, but some are expressing unease as the may have to make vehicles that meet different requirements in different states.

Rebecca Lindland is an industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book and was involved in an Obama-era review of the standards.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a main industry group, sought to stave off any dispute between California and the federal government that could split the USA auto market: "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 American drivers".

More than 12,000 fewer crash fatalities over the lifetimes of all vehicles built through MY 2029, with up to 1,000 lives saved annually. Also, vehicle buyers have shown an even greater demand for SUVs than anyone expected.

The rules set at the end of the Obama administration require an average 45.4 miles per gallon by 2022 and more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

In 2010, the EPA and the NHTSA, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and automakers established a national program harmonizing greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards.

One of the administration's arguments against the 2012 rule is that the cheapest ways for auto makers to achieve fuel efficiency already have been implemented. Higher fuel economy standards translate into more miles driven and thus more criteria pollutants (gases that cause photo chemical smog) emitted.

In response to the EPA's formal proposal, the National Automobile Dealers Association said it was supportive of the "extensive work" that went into the decision to roll back Obama guidelines. Tailpipe emissions, however, are regulated, on the federal level, by the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump's decision to challenge California's authority to regulate vehicle emissions upends decades of federal policy that allowed the most populous and richest US state to combat air pollution that particularly afflicts Los Angeles.

That awkward mix of regulations worked just fine, more or less, for years. The state needs to curtail carbon dioxide emissions with help from fuel efficiency, he said. "That changes driving habits, that changes the kinds of cars and trucks that people want to buy, that changes what is possible in terms of vehicle fuel efficiency". Magavern predicted courts will want similar documentation for any new regulations. That created the nightmare possibility, for the auto industry, of three conflicting sets of fuel economy requirements.

'For 48 years-since one of my heroes, then-governor Ronald Reagan, requested it-California has had a waiver from the federal government to clean our own air, ' the former governor tweeted on Thursday.

The administration also served notice that it wants to revoke states' long-standing authority to set their own, stricter mileage standards.

"With today's release of the Administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin", the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says in a statement.

Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, praised the proposed rule, stating, "More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to USA roads and we look forward to receiving input from the public". "The pathway to that vision includes continually improving fuel economy and our commitment to an all-electric future".

Electric vehicles could be a major source of electricity demand for utilities, but the Trump administration's vehicle efficiency rollback could slow their growth, particularly in their biggest market - California. South Dakota Senator John Thune, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said, "The SAFE Vehicles proposal offers the public an important opportunity to consider new information about the safety realities of smaller and lighter vehicles in collisions as part of a more informed conversation about achievable fuel economy standards".

The administration also contends that hiking US oil consumption by 2 to 3 percent over forecast levels would have a minimal impact on the environment, boosting global average temperature by just "3/1000th of a degree Celsius by 2100".

  • Joey Payne