POTUS Proposes Car-Mileage Rollback; States Sue In Protest

EPA moves to scrap Obama-era clean car rules and sets up fight with California

Advocacy groups display silhouettes of children meant to represent Americans hurt by air pollution at a protest of the administration's proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards outside the EPA in Washington, Aug. 2, 2018.

Under the policy enacted by the Obama administration in 2012, the target would have risen progressively from 37mpg (6.4L/100km) in the 2020 model year to 46.5mpg (5.1L/100km) in 2025 model year.

President Donald Trump had directed the rethink of the mileage regulations, saying in March 2017, "If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes" were needed.

"We are going to remain committed to improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and working toward an all-electric future, but we believe it is in everybody's best interest to have one national set of requirement that comprehends the new technologies", she said.

The lawsuit filed in May in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia alleged the plan to dump the mileage standards violated the federal Clean Air Act and didn't follow the agency's own regulations. CFA Executive Director Jack Gillis says lower fuel economy standards mean families have to pay more to keep their cars running.

Trump proposes capping fuel economy standards at 2020 level
It also dovetails with the Republican president's broader effort to unwind green regulation that he views as onerous to business. Trump administration wants to freeze Obama-era requirements that force automakers to manufacture more fuel-efficient vehicles.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the rollback would imperil the state's efforts to curb greenhouse gases and clean up some of the nation's most polluted air. But Trump's EPA said the efficiency rules drive up vehicle prices, keeping many people in older, less safe cars and trucks. They said the average cost of a new automobile is $35,000 and attributed part of that to increasing fuel standards. However, the Trump administration's EPA proposal would require California to abide by federal rules, rather than set its own.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal.

In the years before California's extremely strict clean air rules, there were smog-filled skies that were fairly common.

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The administration's 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.

Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups argue the move will harm the environment, however.

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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. It might even cause auto prices to stop increasing so rapidly.

Confirming a leak from yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed not to change average fleet fuel economy standards at their 2020 levels from 2021 through 2026.

As EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler explained, "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".

At a May meeting in the White House, auto firms appealed to Trump to tap the brakes on the administration's aggressive rollback plan.

At the same time, it plans to block California from putting its own mileage standards into place. But now, the state's emissions standards are in jeopardy. The proposal also claims it will save up to 1,000 lives a year by encouraging people to buy safer, newer cars to replace older, less-safe cars.

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The difference between the two standards could amount to several hundred dollars a year in increased fuel expenditures for the typical motorist.

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