Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Science | By

Trump administration seeks to freeze gas mileage standards for new cars

Trump administration seeks to freeze gas mileage standards for new cars

The Trump administration wants to freeze at proposed 2020-levels Obama-era regulations that would have increased vehicles' miles-per-gallon requirements to make them more fuel efficient and cut down on pollution.

Cars drive past a California emissions testing site in Oceanside, California, U.S. on September 29, 2015. The Obama administration estimated that the increased standards would save 12bn barrels of oil.

"The source of the safety benefits is from getting folks into affordable, more fuel efficient, cleaner safer cars", she told reporters. "In short, the agencies propose to maintain one national standard - a standard that is set exclusively by the Federal government". Whereas under the previous rules enacted in 2012, CAFE targets would ramp up every year, the new proposal intends to keep the 2020 numbers in place through 2026.

"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment", Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Council of ME said the changes will result in more harmful pollutants drifting into ME - which already has among the nation's highest asthma rates - and "adds insult to injury by also eliminating states' rights to set our own clean auto standards". A dozen other states and Washington DC also follow higher standards.

"It's my goal and this administration's goal to come up with a 50-state solution, and we want to have a 50-state solution that does not necessitate preempting California".

"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", EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

The administration must gather feedback on the proposal before it is finalized, a process that could take months and that could be further delayed by lawsuits. The administration also contends that hiking USA oil consumption by 2 to 3 percent over forecast levels would have a minimal impact on the environment, boosting global average temperature by just "3/1000th of a degree Celsius by 2100".

The Trump administration proposal calls California's zero emission vehicle rules, adopted by 9 other states, "technologically infeasible". "This decision by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to reform former President Obama's CAFE regulations takes the decision-making power away from the bureaucrats and puts it back in the hands of the American consumer where it belongs".

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.

It's got "everything to do with just trying to turn over the fleet ... and get more clean and safe cars on the road", EPA assistant administrator Bill Wehrum said.

"It means that the federal government will have slightly less control over the kinds of cars and trucks people can buy", he said.

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