Trump Pumps the Brakes on Obama-Era Fuel Standards - Hit & Run

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At issue is the Trump administration's release Thursday of its anticipated proposal to halt regulations tightening vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution standards, laying the groundwork for a nationwide battle over whether the federal government can preempt California's ability to set its own requirements. Under the Obama administration, automakers were required to reach a fleetwide average fuel economy for all cars and light trucks of 51.4 miles per gallon by 2025. Get the full story in the video above.

U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach, noted this last week in a post on social media where he cast the White House's plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards as a "bitter misguided attack" on both California and the environment.

Continuing its assault on federal rules created to protect the environment and combat global warming, the Trump administration has proposed weakening future fuel efficiency standards for American cars and trucks. California, along with dozens of other states, sued the administration in May, challenging the administration's right to revisit the existing rules.

The administration is hoping to have the new rules in place by the end of the year, with the draft proposal now open to a 60 day comment period.

The administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles". Becerra said the rules not only keep the air clean, but save people money at the pump. The affordability argument also ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a auto, opponents of the rollbacks said. Under the Trump administration's preferred proposal, that would drop to 29.6 miles per gallon, a reduction in nationwide fuel efficiency of about 21 percent.

At the same time, it plans to block California from putting its own mileage standards into place.

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.

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California is expected to challenge the withdrawal of the waiver in court.

The Trump administration argues the new standards strike a regulatory balance between costs, road safety, fuel consumption, pollution and other regulatory factors.

Myron Ebell, a senior energy scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Trump EPA transition chair, cheered the Trump administration's proposed rule change on Thursday.

The reversal of an Obama-era deal with automakers in 2012 will also withdraw a waiver California has under the Clean Air Act to exceed the national standards by requiring even more efficient cars.

Automakers view the new proposal as a starting point for negotiations with California, with hopes of keeping one fuel efficiency standard for the entire nation.

"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. Electric cars and trucks still account for a tiny fraction of those sold, and driver preference for SUVs, along with relatively low gas prices, have inhibited progress there.

In Thursday's proposal, the Trump administration argues that its proposed freeze will have a "negligible" impact on air quality, and boost the earth's temperature by 3/1000th of one degree Celsius by 2100.

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