Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

States vow to press fight against Trump's auto fuel rules

States vow to press fight against Trump's auto fuel rules

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation today unveiled a proposal to freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules from 2020 through 2026.

The administration said the freeze would boost USA 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.

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, called the proposed rule "a massive pileup of bad ideas" that would increase pollution and raise fuel costs for consumers.

Under the Obama rule, passenger cars and light trucks would see a real-world average of 37.4 miles per gallon by 2025, according to Mui's calculations.

And while automakers initially asked the Trump administration to loosen fuel economy requirements, this impending legal battle is one they would rather avoid.

"The outcome 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 administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles". That would allow more people to buy cars with enhanced safety features, the government said.

"EPA is proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California in 2013 for the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] and ZEV [Zero Emissions Vehicles] requirements of its Advanced Clean Cars program", the proposal says.

The EPA contended in a press release on Thursday that the current Obama-era gas mileage standards have been a factor in the rising cost of cars to an average of $35,000, which makes purchasing a new vehicle unaffordable for many Americans.

The fuel-efficiency rules, which were key to former President Barack Obama's efforts to fight climate change, require auto makers to cut emissions enough.

Most automakers haven't had time to react to the proposal, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the "proposed rule recognizes that assumptions made in 2012 about consumer preferences have fundamentally shifted in 2018".

He said it was the administration's goal to come up with a "50-state solution that does not necessitate pre-empting California". The state, and others that have adopted the standard, have vowed to fight in court.

California joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in suing the EPA in May, asking the court to review the EPA's proposed actions.

Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the freeze would reduce highway deaths by 1,000 per year "by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars".

It argued that this policy change was necessary because the Obama administration's standards "raised the cost and decreased the supply of newer, safer vehicles". He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California. They claimed the reduced standards would make new cars more affordable. Despite the waiver, California still fails to meet federal clean air guidelines, the agencies noted. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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