Vermont to fight Trump fuel standards rollback

Jon Wong  Roadshow

The Trump administration proposed weakening Obama-era federal fuel efficiency standards yesterday and moved to revoke California's authority to set its own strict tailpipe emissions rules, setting up what will likely be a protracted legal battle between the federal government and USA states. Under Thursday's proposal, the EPA also confirmed plans to strip California of its authority to set its own fuel economy levels for vehicles, citing a 50-state solution in the proposal. "And as other countries keep their focus on increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, we run the risk of losing out on this progress and innovation", said Congressman DeSaulnier.

But the current EPA, under Andrew Wheeler, disagrees, claiming the regulations would make cars more expensive; therefore, people would be stuck driving older, less safe vehicles.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is the first formal step in setting the 2021-2026 Model Year (MY) standards that must be achieved by each automaker for its auto and light-duty truck fleet. Jerry Brown's more ambitious goal of 5 million ZEVs by 2030, it could add up to 1 GW of power demand to the grid.

Opponents say the result will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death.

'California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible'.

Becerra said he was already preparing to sue the Trump administration and would be joined by 18 other state attorneys general, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and NY. It would halt requirements that automakers build cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, including hybrids and electric vehicles.

In 2016, the EPA and NHTSA estimated that complying with the tighter Obama-era tailpipe standards would cost roughly $900 and $1,200 per vehicle, respectively, by 2025.




The Trump administration's proposed rollback of auto fuel economy and emissions standards looks, on the surface, like a welcome gift to the auto industry. South Dakota Senator John Thune, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said, "The SAFE Vehicles proposal offers the public an important opportunity to consider new information about the safety realities of smaller and lighter vehicles in collisions as part of a more informed conversation about achievable fuel economy standards".

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) formally unveiled plans [text, PDF] Thursday to rollback fuel economy standards previously aimed at bringing cars and small trucks to 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking, the EPA and Transportation Department would freeze the standards at 2020 levels through 2026. That would provide consumers with more affordable choices, allowing more Americans to buy safer, more fuel-efficient cars. Two former EPA mileage officials said the administration's proposal departed from years of findings on fuel efficiency, vehicle safety, exhaust emissions, and costs, reports the Weather Channel.

The Trump administration also says freezing the miles per gallon for cars at 35 - rather than 54 in the current standards - means people would drive less, which would lower the risk of auto crashes.

Notably, the proposed rule also limits the ability of California to establish its own tailpipe emissions standards, the Sierra Club notes. Potential litigation could result in uncertainty for manufacturers with respect to vehicle sales in California and other states that adopt California's rules, as permitted by Section 177 of the CAA.

Automakers view the new proposal as a starting point for negotiations with California, with hopes of keeping one fuel efficiency standard for the entire nation. The SAFE Vehicles Rule is likely to face legal obstacles if it rescinds California's CAA waiver. More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment. Under the Clean Air Act, California has the right to set stricter standards, and other states may adopt those standards. It notes that light trucks previous year made up 65 percent of total US vehicle sales, up from 50 percent in 2012, when oil prices peaked.

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