EPA to revisit and probably roll back fuel economy standards

Trump with car makers
Public Domain EPA/ Trump with major car makers

A few weeks ago, the Auto Alliance, a group made up of most of the auto makers wrote a strong letter that was critical of the “Final Determination” on fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions put in place by the Obama Administration, demanding it be rescinded, and calling it “the product of egregious procedural and substantive defects… riddled with indefensible assumptions, inadequate analysis and a failure to engage with contrary evidence.”

They appear to have to got their wish; according to the EPA’s press release, “Administrator Scott Pruitt will revisit the previous administration’s rule that finalized standards to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025.”

Trump and Pruitt couldn’t just announce a rollback; there are regulations in place that cannot be changed by fiat (or Ford) Brad Plumer explains in Vox:

The hard part comes if the EPA and Department of Transportation later decide to rewrite the fuel economy standards for 2022-’25 to be less strict. They can’t just abolish the standards altogether, because of the underlying laws involved…Bob Sussman, a lawyer who was senior policy counsel at the EPA under Obama, explains that Trump officials would have to make a detailed case that the Obama-era standards are too costly to meet — say, because they depend on selling large numbers of electric vehicles that consumers are unwilling to buy. “It’s not an easy case to make,” Sussman says. “It’s very fact-intensive and highly technical.”

But however technical it is, there is little doubt that the car makers will get their wish, from the sounds of the press release.

“Today’s decision by the EPA is a win for the American economy,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The Department of Transportation will re-open the Mid-Term evaluation process and work with the EPA to complete the review in a transparent, data-driven manner.”

“These standards are costly for automakers and the American people,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.”

There does not seem to be any interest in looking after the lungs of the American people or the state of the global climate; those are off the table in America. Nor is there any interest in getting Americans into smaller or more efficient cars; as Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler noted, "I think every [automaker] that produces SUVs and pickups will benefit from a rollback.”

And that is what America needs, more SUVs and pickups, more CO2, more particulates in our lungs, more dead pedestrians and cyclists.

Tags: EPA | Fuel Efficiency

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