Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

EPA unveils plan to lower Obama-era federal fuel standards

The administration will now seek public comment on its proposal and a range of other options, including leaving the tighter, Obama fuel standards in place.

The administration wants to freeze a rule mandating that automakers work to make cars substantially more fuel efficient. Meanwhile, California's strict fuel economy and emissions standards have caused financial losses for carmakers, which must raise prices on cars elsewhere to make up for the loss, the proposal states.

The administration's proposal asserts that "attempting to solve climate change, even in part" is "fundamentally different" from the Clean Air Act's "original objective of addressing smog-related air quality problems". He cautions that as the EPA provides more information about its new proposed standard, those calculations may change.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release on Thursday.

In a 978-page document (pdf) released on August 2, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are also proposing to retract a waiver issued to California in 2013, which enabled the state to set its own stricter emissions standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have unveiled their new proposal for fuel economy standards following the scrapping of the Obama-era plan which called for a corporate average fuel economy rating of 54.5 mpg (65.4 mpg United Kingdom / 4.3L / 100km) by 2025.

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California has had the authority under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own mileage standards to combat its chronic smog problem.

"My job as the state's attorney general is to protect my state's rights and interests and the environmental rights of all Pennsylvanians", Shapiro said. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

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

Under restrictions passed by the Obama administration, the fleet-wide fuel economy would have risen gradually to about 47 mpg by 2025. California and 16 other states already have filed suit to block any change in the fuel efficiency rules. The result, opponents say, will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death.

"If the President thinks he can win this fight, he's out of his mind". "Maine wants cleaner cars nationwide because upwind pollution matters so much to us, so we've done our part by using the best clean auto standards available". "The data and science does not back up what they are trying to do, which is to eviscerate these California standards". "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of American drivers".

All of this could be somewhat mitigated if California can set stronger standards; at the moment, the state and federal standard are the same. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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