Trump administration unveils plan to weaken Obama-era emissions standards for cars

Make Cars Great Again

The Trump administration has moved to loosen fuel efficiency regulations, setting up a fight with a coalition of states led by California. For example, Obama's EPA argued that a dual-clutch transmission would soon be widely adopted as a cost-effective way to get more miles per gallon.

"If the President thinks he can win this fight, he's out of his mind".

The new proposal, unveiled this week, is essentially a rollback of Obama-era regulations that were created to produce gradual fuel-economy gains and tailpipe-emissions reductions. California received the exemption - the only state to do so - decades ago because it was already developing its own standards when federal rules were being written. This, Chao and Wheeler argued, "strikes the appropriate regulatory balance between vehicle improvements, environmental benefits and safety".

The rollback would undermine efforts by California and several other states to meet commitments the US made in the Paris agreement on climate change. "Not only does fuel savings cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but it also covers all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases, including new safety features".

Eighteen states - including New York, New Jersey and California - sued the Trump administration in May to stop it from rolling back the fuel standards, arguing that they should be able to develop regulations to curb pollution.

The administration also served notice that it wants to revoke states' long-standing authority to set their own, stricter mileage standards. The administration's assertion that lighter, more fuel efficient cars are more risky has been disputed by transport experts.

The Trump proposal would freeze standards at 2020 levels when vehicles will be required to hit an average of 30 miles per gallon (48 kilometers per gallon) in real-world driving. Why all of the sudden would the Trump administration - without the facts and the science behind them - feel like they can just yank those away?

"I hope some conservatives with a conscience will act in Washington to defend California's waiver based on these historic Republican values", he said. Assuming, strictly for illustration purposes, a gasoline price of three dollars per gallon, that would result in an increased annual fuel expenditure of about $318.

Thursday's rule-making proposal from the EPA and NHTSA also presents several other options for modifying the Obama targets, while recommending the proposed freeze starting in 2020, the most severe of the scenarios. The affordability argument also ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said.

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change.

The government agencies claim its new proposal will save up to 1000 lives per year, as the less stringent standard will allow more people to afford new and safer vehicles.

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

During an earnings conference call last week, General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra repeatedly emphasised the need for a single national standard on fuel economy. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

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