Trump Administration Looks To Roll Back Mileage Standards

Vehicles travel along Highway 101 in Los Angeles

Vehicles travel along Highway 101 in Los Angeles

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"What the EPA released was a proposed rule not a final rule", she told a White House briefing.

Under the Trump administration's proposal, fuel economy will continue to increase through 2020.

Some argue fuel-economy laws are necessary to fight global warming, but they do almost nothing to address the alleged dangers of climate change. Several other states followed California's guidelines, creating a fragmented set of standards across the country.

The United States' fuel-economy standard is an average formulated based on two regions defined by the national government. Some of the states poised to join the suit, including Pennsylvania, adhere to California's stricter standards. (That's equal to about 37 mpg under newer, more realistic EPA tests.) It's those standards that the Trump administration wants to freeze, contending they are unreasonable. The 10 other states and the District of Columbia that have adopted the tougher California guidelines would also be impacted by the White House move. This is also true for other full-line vehicle manufacturers.

The release of the administration's proposal was repeatedly delayed in recent weeks as officials debated how aggressively to push.

The administration said the freeze would boost US oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the 2030s, and argued it would prevent up to 1,000 traffic fatalities per year by reducing the price of new vehicles and so prompting people to buy newer, safer vehicles more quickly.

"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment". Still, hybrid and electric vehicles are a tough sell in the US now, where combined they make up less than 4 per cent of the market, she said.

The greatest increase in greenhouse gas emissions would happen in the 2030s because electric cars will grow significantly by the 2040s, the Energy Innovation analysis found. The impact of freezing those targets for six years, as the administration favors, would be enormous. The firm projects the policy would cost the USA economy $457 billion and cause 13,000 deaths by 2050, as air quality suffers.

Activists warn that this will be bad for both consumers and the planet.

Those assertions are refuted by thousands of pages of data the Obama administration used in developing the regulation.

"The effect of unreasonable fuel economy and Carbon dioxide standards: Increased vehicle prices keep consumers in older, dirtier, and less safe vehicles", the EPA said in its proposal.

The rollback has provoked outcry from environmental and health groups, as well as states who are pushing for cleaner vehicle fleets. A long court challenge threatens to tear the auto industry into two distribution streams, where two-thirds of the USA market receives less efficient vehicles and the other third receives more efficient ones. "They have failed before". But Trump's EPA said the efficiency rules drive up vehicle prices, keeping many people in older, less safe cars and trucks.

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

Those negotiations have gone nowhere.

The administration also proposed a withdrawal of California's Clean Air Act preemption waiver.

New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood and 19 other attorney generals issued a joint statement in which they said: "This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents".

Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign dismissed the Trump administration's arguments as a "parade of concocted horrors".

©2018 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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