Trump admin. rolls back Obama-era emissions standards

James Marshall
April 1, 2020

The Trump administration wants to roll back another federal regulation meant to reduce global warming.

Starting with the 2021 model year, the rule will increase fuel efficiency standards by 1.5 percent annually through the 2026 model year, instead of a five percent yearly increase required by the old standards.

"We are delivering on President Trump's promise to correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards", Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement Tuesday marking the release.

The administration has repealed, or is in the process of repealing, at least 95 different environmental rules, with 25 having a direct and adverse impact on the nation's air quality, and dozens of others that will indirectly increase air pollution. That will result in fewer highway fatalities, it said. "We think we've struck the right balance".

Expecting that Trump's EPA would seek to revoke its unique powers, California's clean-air regulator made a deal previous year with four automakers that is not as tough as the Obama standards, but is more ambitious than the administration's proposal. Under the Trump rollback, vehicle fleets will be required to average about 40 miles per gallon. The average age of a auto on the American highways is 12 years old, up from eight years old in 1990, Mr.

They said the new rule reflects the realities of today's markets, including substantially lower oil prices than in the original 2012 projection, significant increases in USA oil production, and growing consumer demand for larger vehicles. Trump officials contend vehicles will be cheaper for Americans to buy, because automakers will have saved on emissions-cutting technology.

The administration said the revised rules will cut the future price of new vehicles by around $1,000 and reduce traffic deaths.

Opponents also project millions of tons more carbon dioxide and other climate damaging emissions, compared to the Obama mileage standards. "We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial", President Obama tweeted. Cars and light trucks account for more than 20% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

In introducing the rule, the Trump administration said it was performing what it called "the largest deregulatory initiative of this administration".

Even "given the catastrophe they're in with the coronavirus, they're pursuing a policy that's going to hurt public health and kill people", said Chet France, a former 39-year veteran of the EPA, where he served as a senior official over emissions and mileage standards. "But in our view, the agencies should have gone even further; rather than just slowing down the CAFE increases, they should have either frozen or even rolled back the standards".

David Friedman, vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said the government's assumption is flawed that because the vehicles' mileage won't be as good, people will drive less and be exposed to less risk on the road.

The Trump administration in August 2018 initially proposed freezing requirements at 2020 levels through 2026.

The energy industry also applauded the new rules, pointing out the difficulty of reaching the Obama administration's standards. It's time for some perspective here: "let's put this needlessly partisan fight behind us and work together - federal and state governments, automakers and autoworkers, and the advocates for public health and the environment - and find a way to get auto manufacturers and the auto supply chain through the tumultuous economic time that we are in and on a long term pathway toward zero emissions transportation as the economy rebounds", Toor said in a statement. The administration said drivers will pay more in increased fuel costs than they will save in lower vehicle prices but concluded they will save more in overall vehicle ownership costs. "So, we wish the federal government had done better than a rule that rolls back important environmental progress".

Most automakers have said they want one standard in the US, rather than having to cater to states that follow California's rules and others that adhere to the federal government's regulations.

There were also questions about the mathematics underpinning the new rules, promulgated after the administration said it took into account more than 750,000 comments made on the draft proposal.

Industry analysts, however, say $1,000 won't mean much to the buyer of an average new vehicle, which cost just under $38,000 Dollars in March.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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