Trump EPA Rolls Back Obama-Era Fuel Economy Standards

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a press release. The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives - the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per auto, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted soon after the White House announced the policy change that she saw this as proof that the Trump administration was prioritizing "lining the pockets of big oil over protecting our right to breathe clean air".

"It's a proposal that attacks the states' right to protect people from unsafe pollution, one that no one -- not the American public, not the states, not even most automakers -- really wants, and one that's being presented to the public under the false and easily discredited guise of improving public safety", the statement continued.

Under the Trump's administration's new proposal, cars and light-trucks would only have to average 37 MPG by 2026. Under the Trump administration's preferred proposal, that would drop to 29.6 miles per gallon, a reduction in nationwide fuel efficiency of about 21 percent. Some of the states poised to join the suit, including Pennsylvania, adhere to California's stricter standards. California and about a dozen states that follow its rules account for about a third of all the passenger vehicles sold in the United States.

Schwarzenegger added that he's "sick and exhausted of these fake conservatives who believe in states' rights to make their own policies - as long as state policy is to pollute more".

The Trump administration is arguing that the multiple standards complicate regulation. But as consumers spend more on gas, the costs would start to balloon.

Automakers, represented by the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers, said they support "substantive negotiations" about fuel efficiency standards. It might even cause auto prices to stop increasing so rapidly.

Environmental and cost impacts of freezing the rules are said to be minimal.

The administration also projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind spot warning.

Environmental groups are already expressing their outrage over the plan.

That ignores the fact that more fuel-efficient vehicles are cheaper to operate since drivers have to buy less gas. "For 48 years - since one of my heroes, then-Governor Ronald Reagan, requested it - California has had a waiver from the federal government to clean our own air", Schwarzenegger wrote in a statement on Twitter. The average new-car transaction is now $36,000, up more than $3,000 since 2014, according to Kelley Blue Book.

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