Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Trump Pumps the Brakes on Obama-Era Fuel Standards - Hit & Run

Trump Pumps the Brakes on Obama-Era Fuel Standards - Hit & Run

In a long-anticipated effort to to roll back the Obama administration's emissions standards, Trump's EPA and Department of Transportation argued - they really did - that providing a more lax standard would lower the price of new cars, in turn saving lives because, they reason, crashes will occur between less fuel-efficient (heavier) vehicles that still have modern safety standards. That would price many buyers out of the new-vehicle market, forcing them to drive older, less-safe vehicles that pollute more, the administration says.

"Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states", a joint statement said.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, the fleet of cars and light-duty trucks released by automakers each year will only have to average about 37 mpg by 2026. Requiring auto makers to reach ever-increasing standards would now be too expensive, putting the cost of vehicles increasingly out of reach.

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. Before a crowd of autoworkers assembled at a decommissioned vehicle factory, Trump said "we're going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again". In announcing the new standards in 2012, the Obama administration said the stricter rules would save around 6bn tons of greenhouse gases by 2026, as well as save Americans $1.7tn in fuel costs.

The administration billed the proposed rollback from Obama-era fuel efficiency standards as a way to help auto companies and lower vehicle prices for consumers, but critics said the plan would accelerate climate change and increase fuel prices.

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The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.

"If the President thinks he can win this fight, he's out of his mind".

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal. Letting one state make decisions for people in other states makes a bad program even worse, especially since the state is California, which has been pursuing an anti-car agenda for decades. The proportion of passengers killed in cars that are older than 18 years is nearly double that of cars that are newer than three years, according to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study.

California - which is playing a world-leading role in setting aggressive climate goals and building strong coalitions of partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States and around the globe - will convene the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September. Also, and manufacturers are talking about kind of having two different standards. He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California. Currently California has a special waiver under the Clean Air Act to enact stricter rules than those at the federal level. The Obama administration estimated that the increased standards would save 12bn barrels of oil. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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