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

Pablo Tucker
August 3, 2018

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.

The proposal itself estimates it could cost tens of thousands of jobs - auto workers who deal with making vehicles more fuel efficient. "It also relies on freaky assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety", California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols told Vox.

Trump administration officials have fought for weeks behind the scenes over the details of the how to relax Obama-era standards.

The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.


Chet France, an EPA senior executive until his retirement in 2012, called the administration's contention that the mileage freeze would cause only a tiny increase in climate-changing exhaust emissions "bogus". About a dozen other states have followed California's lead. They said the average cost of a new automobile is $35,000 and attributed part of that to increasing fuel standards. "We are delivering on President Trump's promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards", a statement from Wheeler reads.

The Trump administration has moved to weaken USA vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.

Pollution from cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles is the California's single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to state data. "More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment".

Becerra and attorneys general from 16 other states sued in May to stop the EPA from scrapping standards that would have required vehicles by 2025 to achieve 36 miles per gallon (58 kilometers per gallon) in real-world driving, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) over the existing standards.


In a 978-page document (pdf) released on August 2, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are also proposing to retract a waiver issued to California in 2013, which enabled the state to set its own stricter emissions standards. The Trump administration's proposal would cut off the average CAFE increases in 2020, when automakers will have to produce cars that get an average of 43.7 miles per gallon.

'California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible'.

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. 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. "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".

But consumer groups and experts said the messaging around the proposal is deceptive, completely ignoring the cost savings on gas in more efficient cars - especially if gas prices increase.


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