Trump’s clean auto rollback will cost the USA $457 billion

Greg Lawrence
August 3, 2018

"CA DOJ will use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today's national standards and reaffirm the facts and science behind them". But at that point the two rules diverge, with the Obama era rule mandating continued increases in efficiency.

The lawsuit filed in May in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia alleged the plan to dump the mileage standards violated the federal Clean Air Act and didn't follow the agency's own regulations. And it says that compared to the 2012 rules, the new proposal would raise USA fuel consumption by half a million barrels per day (that's between two and three percent daily).

While many carmakers have touted their development of more efficient cars, including electric vehicles, auto lobbyists were quick to get assurances from the Trump administration that the more stringent rules would be dismantled. Under the Obama rule, by 2025 the average vehicle would go through roughly 401 gallons of gasoline in order to drive a typical distance of 15,000 miles in one year.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Twitter that "The #Trump Administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's #CleanCarStandards".

Democrats hope to make any rollback of the emissions rules a key part of November's midterm elections, when they will try to regain control of one or both chambers of Congress. Republicans in states with links to the auto industry may counter that the administration is working to ensure automakers can make more profitable, larger vehicles, including fuel-thirsty pickups and SUVs.

"More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment", said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

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While the administration supports freezing the mileage standards after 2020, it will seek public comment now on that proposal and a range of others, including leaving the tighter, Obama administration fuel standards in place.

The new plan would freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels through the year 2025 and beyond. That means a 43.7 mpg for passenger cars and 31.3 mpg for light trucks. Securing America's Future Energy, a group dedicated to reducing independence on oil, noted that vehicle prices have actually fallen 3 percent since 2013, even as overall inflation increased 8 percent.

The soaring prices of cars have led more Americans to hold off on new auto purchases. Mui assumes that real world driving would result in about 80 percent of the fuel efficiency measured in laboratory testing.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "This program has sparked innovations resulting in cars and trucks that are cleaner, safer, faster and offer more comforts and luxuries, all while saving consumers billions", said David Friedman, vice president, advocacy, for Consumer Reports and the former interim head of NHTSA under the Obama administration.

As expected, the government claims the new fuel economy standards are "anticipated to prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries as compared to the standards set forth in the 2012 final rule".

The Obama administration had planned to keep toughening fuel requirements through 2026, saying those and other regulations on vehicles would save 40,000 lives annually through cleaner air. Those rules were to take effect after 2020.

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