Monday, 23 July, 2018

Trump EPA rescinding Obama-era auto fuel efficiency, emissions standards

Calling Standards 'Too High,' EPA Moves to Relax Car Pollution Rules Trump administration revokes car air pollution rules, sets up fight with California | The Sacramento Bee
Delia Stanley | 03 April, 2018, 06:15

Today in Washington, the EPA marked the completion of the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) process for setting Green House Gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025.

Shortly after President Donald Trump took office, however, two agencies - the EPA and the Department of Transportation - reopened the so-called midterm review of the auto pollution standards. The agency then, rather blatantly, warned "The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA under Administrator Pruitt's leadership".

Talks between the EPA and California over the past several months did not produce agreement on a national standard, but those meetings could have been just a "door opening" for further discussions, she said. "Pruitt is taking us in the wrong direction and we will use all legal means available to stop him", the group said.

The widely anticipated decision drew criticism from consumer and environmental groups.

For decades, the power sector had been the nation's biggest source of carbon emissions.

Still, according to the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the cost of implementing the emissions has been overstated, in some cases by as much as 40 percent, given how quickly the costs of efficient engines, transmissions, accessories, and tires have come down.

However, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) said the EPA announcement was a bad deal for American consumers. A new auto meeting the 2025 standards, the Natural Resources Defense Council notes, would save a consumer about $4,000 in fuel over the life of the vehicle compared to the average auto meeting 2017 standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed plans to overhaul proposed fuel economy standards which were put in place under President Obama.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, denounced the move as a "shameless assault" on public health, the climate and US consumers. President Donald Trump told autoworkers in Detroit a year ago that he was determined to roll back the emissions rules as part of a bigger effort to jump-start the nation's auto industry.

"We support increasing clean auto standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback", said Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, and Jim Hackett, the company's CEO, in a blog post last week.

Separately, Honda vice president Robert Bienenfeld told The New York Times that a full roll-back was more than the company bargained for.

Other states also follow rules set by California and together account for more than a third of the vehicles sold in the U.S. now state and federal standards are the same. Under the Clean Air Act, California is allowed to set vehicle emissions standards higher than the rest of the country, and with almost 35.4 million registered vehicles, the state commands powerful influence over the American auto market. Pruitt said the California waiver is now being reexamined.

"Cooperative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country", Pruitt said. That, though, doesn't appear to be on the cards according to Administrator Pruitt's somewhat antagonistic tone in today's statement.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his team is reviewing the EPA's determination.

"The Trump Administration's assault on clean auto standards risks our ability to protect our children's health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money", Becerra lashed back.

As expected, Pruitt announced Monday that "the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised". "We stand ready to take legal action to block the Trump administration's reckless and illegal efforts to reverse these critical standards and the gains we've made in ensuring cars are more fuel-efficient and less polluting". Together, they represent about one-third of all new cars sold in the U.S.

Automakers applauded Monday's decision, arguing that the current requirements would have cost the industry billions of dollars and raised vehicle prices due to the cost of developing the necessary technology.

"We appreciate that the Administration is working to find a way to both increase fuel economy standards and keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans".

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