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Trump Administration Aims to Freeze Fuel Standards, End Tougher California Rules

03 August 2018
Trump Administration Aims to Freeze Fuel Standards, End Tougher California Rules

The Trump administration today formally proposed weakening Obama-era clean vehicle rules and pre-empting states from setting tougher standards.

"The joint proposal initiates a process to establish a new 50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard for passenger cars and light trucks covering MY 2021 through 2026", said the Department of Transportation. But at that point the two rules diverge, with the Obama era rule mandating continued increases in efficiency.

"This has very little to do in reality with the globe's surface temperature", said climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. We also hope the administration gives way on enforcing one national CAFE standard.

"If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes could have and should have been made".

The administration also filed notice Thursday that it wants to revoke the authority of California and other states to set their own, stricter mileage standards - independent of federal ones.

It further argues these reduced costs would allow more consumers to purchase newer, safer cars, which it says would save up to 1,000 lives annually.

And while automakers initially asked the Trump administration to loosen fuel economy requirements, this impending legal battle is one they would rather avoid.

The attorneys general of 20 states, including California, pledged to sue the administration. But now, the state's emissions standards are in jeopardy. "We're simply opening it up for a comment period and we'll make a final decision at the end of that", White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost. As a result, most midsize sedans now get 30 or more miles per gallon.

Automakers had long bemoaned the Obama standards as too hard to meet, especially as more consumers choose larger trucks, crossovers and SUVs, which guzzle more gasoline. As a result, vehicle prices are soaring.

Today's cars contain so many computers and must be manufactured to produce so much horsepower out of as little motor as possible that they have become nothing more than rolling computers on the brink of failure. The new proposal would freeze standards at 2020 levels. "It means that the federal government will have slightly less control over the kinds of cars and trucks people can buy". It might even cause vehicle prices to stop increasing so rapidly. As a result, the age of the average vehicle in America is now nearly 12 years old, the highest in USA history, according to IHS Markit. "Thanks to emissions and efficiency rules, consumers have saved billions of dollars on fuel over the last 5 years and pollution has dropped".

Heidi King, the deputy administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, said the administration is excited about the idea of getting more modern cars on the road to replace older, less efficient ones. The administration said the proposed plan will prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries.

The Trump's administration's fatality estimate isn't novel to observers of the vehicle industry. Under the Trump proposal, that would increase to about 507 gallons. Those rules were to take effect after 2020.