Trump Administration to Roll Back Obama-Era CAFE Standards

President Donald Trump flashes a thumbs up in front of an SUV

President Donald Trump flashes a thumbs up in front of an SUV

The Trump administration's proposal, jointly published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers to almost double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of about 54 mpg by 2025.

Today's amended complaint argues that California's firearms laws, passed to protect its residents from gun violence, would be undermined by the public distribution of 3D downloadable guns and that the Trump Administration is violating the Administrative Procedure Act in permitting downloadable guns to be made available online.

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". The CARB standards have since been adopted by 12 other states, accounting for 35 percent of the US auto market, and are on track to reduce America's oil dependence by more than 2 million barrels a day and will effectively eliminate the impact of 59 million vehicles from the road by 2030.

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.

The nation's automotive manufacturers welcomed the rollback, but some are expressing unease as the may have to make vehicles that meet different requirements in different states. "Industry representatives commended the Trump administration Thursday for putting out multiple options for public comment but stressed that they continue to support fuel-economy increases", Brady Dennis, Michael Laris and Juliet Eilperin write for the Washington Post.

However, Wheeler's views have clashed with those of others in the administration, particularly in the White House and at the Transportation Department, who are said to be spoiling for a fight with California. Automakers have called that a worst-case scenario. By seeking to strip California of its authority to set its own strict vehicle emissions standards, the proposal also opens new questions about the limits of federal powers over states.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released their proposed vehicle fuel economy rule called the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.

However, in April, EPA arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 vehicles should be scrapped. The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered the climate impact of utilities, but transportation is proving more stubborn.

The Obama administration received criticism for repurposing the CAFE program from its original objective in 1975-reducing American dependence on foreign oil imports-to a Global Warming scheme aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging consumers to purchase electric cars. Though, to bring it into the mass production realm for entry-level and family cars to begin, it would greatly increase the cost of a vehicle.

The Bay Area firm Energy Innovation, which models the environmental impact of energy policies, projects the proposal would increase USA fuel use 20 percent by 2035.

According to Trump administration estimates, the Obama fuel efficiency standards would raise the price of vehicles by an average of $2,340.

"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to U.S. roads", said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Being that the Administration's two primary arguments for the proposal are affordability and safety, their argument behind road fatalities is that as the cost of a new vehicle increases, people will be less likely to buy one, opting for a older, less safe model.

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. It met its 2020 goals four years early, but hitting the next target will be much harder without cleaner vehicles. "They have failed before".

"This is an unprecedented and unlawful action that the California officials say, "...flies in the face of congressional intent and would aggravate the harms to consumers, public health, the economy and the environment caused by the weakening of the federal standards".

Also urging the Trump administration to go back to the drawing board will be the nation's manufacturers of auto parts and components. He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California.

UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson says California has received almost 100 such waivers under the Clean Air Act to implement its own standards over the past 50 years.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state would "use every legal tool at its disposal" to defend the tougher rules.

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