Trump administration to freeze fuel efficiency requirements

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have unveiled their new proposal for fuel economy standards following the scrapping of the Obama-era plan which called for a corporate average fuel economy rating of 54.5 mpg (65.4 mpg United Kingdom / 4.3L / 100km) by 2025.

Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say.

"Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states", a joint statement said.

Setting up a showdown with California, the Trump administration on Thursday announced a plan to revoke a signature Obama-era environmental regulation.

The administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles". "This program has sparked innovations resulting in cars and trucks that are cleaner, safer, faster and offer more comforts and luxuries, all while saving consumers billions", said David Friedman, vice president, advocacy, for Consumer Reports and the former interim head of NHTSA under the Obama administration. Bill Wehrum, an assistant EPA administrator, told reporters on Thursday that many things had changed, including a drop in fuel prices, since the efficiency rules were last set six years ago. 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 auto to sell in different parts of the U.S. The Trump administration wants to take away California's right to set higher standards.

The administration billed the proposed rollback from Obama-era fuel efficiency standards as a way to help auto companies and lower vehicle prices for consumers, but critics said the plan would accelerate climate change and increase fuel prices.

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But critics of the proposal note that the auto industry had a stretch of strong sales from 2010 to 2017, with several years seeing record sales, because consumers want more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Months after they pre-emptively sued to block anticipated efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back mileage regulations, Democratic attorneys general vowed to continue their fight in the courts.

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable.

The newly proposed CAFE standards are thus good news to consumers, according to astatement from Myron Ebell, the director of CEI's Center for Energy and Environment.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement. They are gearing up for a legal and political battle, particularly over the California waiver. But any plans to freeze clean air rules and strip California of its power to set its own rules is drawing fire from members of both parties. Some of the states poised to join the suit, including Pennsylvania, adhere to California's stricter standards. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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