Trump administration to freeze fuel efficiency requirements

Make Cars Great Again

On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that it would be freezing Obama-era fuel efficiency guidelines that required US vehicles to become significantly more fuel efficient.

The Obama rules were meant to ensure progress made during the Democrat's presidency would extend beyond it. Automakers over the last decade have employed lighter materials and tweaked vehicle design to boost fuel efficiency, changes that have improved mileage on even the biggest U.S. gas guzzlers. "California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible", Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a set of new fuel economy and emissions standards on August 2, estimated to result in 12,700 fewer traffic deaths, make passenger cars more affordable, and give automakers more freedom to create cars based on consumer preference rather than government mandate.

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. "It's going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump". It called its plan a "50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard for passenger cars and light trucks". Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said consumers could save between $3,200 per auto and $4,800 per truck over the life of the vehicle under that standard, and that they would save even more if gas prices go up.

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.

While the new standard is significantly lower than Obama's 2025 target of 54 miles per gallon, the difference is expected to have a minimal impact on climate. The CARB website suggests the state should be allowed to set its own standards, owing to its "unique geography, weather, and expanding number of people and vehicles". "Maine wants cleaner cars nationwide because upwind pollution matters so much to us, so we've done our part by using the best clean auto standards available".

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Gillis says manufacturers have done a good job of meeting ambitious mileage standards and consumers have benefited. 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. That argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal.

Gina McCarthy, thes EPA administrator under Obama, said the reversal of these standards "run contrary to sound science and the law".

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.

The new proposed standards would also take away an individual state's ability to set standards above federal requirement - an attack on the higher California standard that is also followed by many other states. It says keeping the Obama-era standards in place would increase the cost of an average vehicle by $2,340, prompting consumers to hold back in buying newer, safer vehicles and end up aging the nation's fleet of cars on the road. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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