Sunday, 19 August, 2018


FUEL EFFICIENCY: Trump proposes rollback of Obama's clean vehicle rules

2018-chevrolet-tahoe-rst-62 Would Americans be safer if they drove heavier less-efficient vehicles for fewer miles? Jon Wong Roadshow
Kristine Garrett | 04 August, 2018, 11:29

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Thursday proposed that the nation's costly and counterproductive fuel-economy standards remain at 2020 levels through 2026, abandoning President Barack Obama's plans to raise them each year. Their proposed rule calls for replacing an aggressive 2012 rule for increasing fuel efficiency in cars and light trucks from 2022 through 2025.

The federal agencies have also referenced a "50-state program", calling into question California's authority to implement its own more strict emissions regulations.

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

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.

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said. At the moment, the state standard and the national one are the same-but if they diverged, automakers could end up making multiple versions of each auto to sell in different parts of the U.S. The Trump administration wants to take away California's right to set higher standards.

Trump administration officials said the revised rules would make cars more affordable and safer for consumers.

"There's some tension between calling for ever-increasing fuel efficiency standards on the one hand and the effect it has on highway safety on the other hand", assistant administrator in the EPA's air office Bill Wehrum told reporters. Higher fuel economy standards translate into more miles driven and thus more criteria pollutants (gases that cause photo chemical smog) emitted.

The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost. But any plans to freeze clean air rules and strip California of its power to set its own rules is drawing fire from members of both parties. 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. It might even cause auto prices to stop increasing so rapidly.

"Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less", acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Thursday.

Said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: "There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026".

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000 lives saved figure is questionable. 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. "From a consumer angle, from an environmental angle, from an industry angle, there's just no great logic [for this proposal] outside of the administration really catering to extremist viewpoints".

"The earth is not flat, and climate change is real", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, as he connected global warming to the deadly wildfires burning out of control throughout the state.

"As global automakers, they will continue to develop high-efficiency clean technology", said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

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