Trump Administration Seeks To Freeze Fuel Economy Standards

Trump Administration Seeks To Freeze Fuel Economy Standards

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the rollback of Obama-era mileage standards would imperil the state's efforts to curb greenhouse gases and clean up some of the nation's most polluted air.

The Obama administration's EPA had estimated in January 2017 that the increased standards after 2020 would save consumers an average of $1,650 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a new vehicle.

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.

California and the twelve other states with clean vehicle standards cover more than one third of the new auto market.

The administration also wants to revoke the authority of California and other states to set their own, stricter mileage standards — independent of federal ones.

Easing requirements that cars be more fuel efficient should make them both cheaper and safer, getting vehicles with the latest safety developments in the hands of consumers, officials said. 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. Environmental groups who support the gas mileage standards, consumer advocacy groups, and medical associations that aimed to reduce air pollution slammed the proposal.

A recent study from Energy Innovation found that the freezing of fuel economy standards would cost the US economy $274 billion through 2050.

"California's devastating wildfires show the state has a compelling and extraordinary need to safeguard its air and fight the devastating effects of climate change", said Simon Mui, the California lead for clean cars at NRDC. Currently, Washingtown D.C. along with 12 other states, including Rhode Island and MA, have adopted California's stricter standard.

The administration unveiled its long-awaited proposal to gut popular and effective clean auto and fuel economy standards today, and NRDC experts provided an analysis of its many failings. The argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday. That would price many buyers out of the new-vehicle market, forcing them to drive older, less-safe vehicles that pollute more, the administration says.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the proposed freeze would prevent vehicle prices from increasing by an average of about $2,340.

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000 lives saved figure is questionable. "It's going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump". The Trump administration sought to gut the standards, which sets up a predicament that the auto industry wanted to avoid: A patchwork of regulations across various states.

"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs and the environment", the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents major auto companies on US policy issues, said in a statement.

The agencies also want to withdraw California's waiver to the law, which allows the state to set it's own, stricter clean vehicle standards and permits other states to join California in setting a stricter rule.

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.

Seventeen states, including California, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in May challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision a month earlier to declare U.S. vehicle emission rules in place through 2025 "not appropriate".

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a main industry group, said Thursday that the Trump proposal means it's time for negotiations to begin.

In 2012, when the standards were first adopted, cars were about 50 percent of new-vehicle sales.

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