The Trump administration rolled out a plan Thursday to weaken the aggressive fuel economy and global warming standards for cars and strip California of its ability to determine its own vehicle regulations for greenhouse gas emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) declared that the heightened emissions standards set to take effect for cars built from 2021 and 2026 are unreasonable for both economic and safety reasons.
The Obama administration set the standards in 2012 as part of a set of rules meant to intensify from 2017 through 2026.
Instead, the EPA and DOT are now proposing freezing the standards at their planned 2020 level, canceling any future strengthening.
The agencies said new cars and light trucks built in 2020 through 2026 would average 37 miles per gallon under the proposed freeze. Obama’s rule would have resulted in 54.5 miles per gallon by 2026.
Transportation is the most significant source of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the Obama rules were estimated to reduce emissions by 6 billion metric tons and reduce oil use by 2 million barrels per day, saving thousands of lives from pollution-related illnesses and billions of dollars on imported oil.
Longstanding federal legislation has allowed California to set its own mileage standards given the choking smog that still sometimes blankets Los Angeles and other central and Southern California valley cities.
More than a dozen states follow California’s standards, amounting to about 40 percent of the country’s new-vehicle market and supporting tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
A drawn-out legal battle over the standards could hurt the auto industry as it tries to plan for coming model years. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring has joined 19 other states in suing the EPA to halt this rollback.
Thursday’s proposal will soon be published in the Federal Register, kicking off a 60-day period during which the public will be invited to submit comments. After that, the agencies will review the comments before making the plan final, at which time opponents could sue to stop the rollback.
You can comment by visiting the following Federal Register link, https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2018-0283-0001