Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

Trump administration wants to roll back Obama-era mileage standards

Trump administration wants to roll back Obama-era mileage standards

The administration's proposal, jointly published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers to almost double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of about 54 mpg by 2025.

Since the Trump Administration announced its intent to roll back current fuel standards, Congressman DeSaulnier called for a national boycott of any company that does not commit to maintaining the Obama or CARB standards, urged California's public retirement funds to divest from companies that participate in the rollback, led a group of Democratic Members from California in echoing his call for public divestment, and called on automobile manufactures to clarify how they will respond to such a rollback. "It would halt requirements that automakers build cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars including hybrids and electric vehicles", reports Coral Davenport for the New York Times. California and 16 other states already have filed suit to block any change in the fuel efficiency rules.

The proposal would freeze US mileage standards at 2020 levels, when the new vehicle fleet will be required to hit an average of 30 miles per gallon in real-world driving.

The proposed change, halting further improvement requirements, stakes its case on consumer choice and on highway safety claims challenged by many transportation experts.

In Pennsylvania, nearly 23 percent of greenhouse gases and 37 percent of nitrogen-oxide emissions come from the transportation sector. And that, it said, would get vehicles with the latest technology into the hands of consumers more quickly.

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Republicans in states with links to the auto industry may counter that the administration is working to ensure automakers can make more profitable, larger vehicles, including fuel-thirsty pickups and SUVs. A group of 20 attorneys general say they will sue to prevent any drop in standards. "This proposal will substantially increase pollution and will cost the average American family hundreds of dollars a year extra for gas".

Also, interestingly, Trump's plan cites that not only would motorists keep their old cars longer, but would also drive more in general if the Obama-era emissions regulations rules were allowed to take effect, which would lead to an increase in road deaths.

The esimates are based on an average fuel economy rating of 37 mpg for model year 2021-2026 vehicles compared to the 46.7 mpg for 2025 under the current standards.

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. And Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council says they actually want fuel economy to go up.

A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson calls the government's estimate of job losses "rough approximations". The White House approved a proposal on the action Wednesday.

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"California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible", California Governor Jerry Brown said on Twitter. The argument remained on the EPA's website Thursday. It's proposing to freeze the standards instead of increasing the restrictions annually as the Obama administration had originally planned. Other states can choose to follow California's standards - and more than 30 percent of the car-buying market does.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed freezing national standards at 2020 levels on cars and light trucks through 2026.

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable. The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a auto, opponents of the rollbacks said.

If EPA succeeds in rescinding the authority of California and the states that follow its standards, the drivers in all those states stand to pay approximately $65 to $80 billion more in gasoline costs through 2035 than if those states retain their authority to enforce the current California standards.

The resolution demonstrates multi-state support for the existing federal clean auto standards and states' right to adopt California's more stringent standards.

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The proposal also claims other benefits of freezing fuel economy standards at 2020 levels, including a reduction of "societal costs" by $500 billion and savings of $253 billion from lower new vehicle prices.

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