Why Trump’s looser emission standards are mixed blessing for automakers

Why Trump’s looser emission standards are mixed blessing for automakers

Why Trump’s looser emission standards are mixed blessing for automakers

"We are delivering on President Trump's promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards", Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, adding that the White House is seeking a solution amenable to all 50 states.

The administration's proposal would freeze miles-per-gallon targets in 2020. Yet for President Donald Trump, who's prioritized eliminating regulations, the auto rules represent a grand prize.

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 waiver allows the state to set tougher tailpipe rules than the federal ones. The administration also says that its preferred plan for fuel economy will reduce society-wide spending by $502 billion for vehicles built between 1975 and 2029.

The rollback would undermine efforts by California and several other states to meet commitments the USA made in the Paris agreement on climate change.

The prospect of an extended legal fight has discomfited automakers, who had asked the administration to relax the Obama-era rules but don't want to see the US market split in two, with different models of cars required in blue and red states.

States that joined the lawsuit said the change would end up costing more money at the pump because vehicles won't go as far on a gallon of gas, and more misery for those suffering pollution-exacerbated maladies such as asthma. A dozen other states and Washington DC also follow higher standards.

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The federal agencies have also referenced a "50-state program", calling into question California's authority to implement its own more strict emissions regulations. The administration's assertion that lighter, more fuel efficient cars are more unsafe has been disputed by transport experts.

In their view, the proposed changes will increase daily fuel consumption rise by two to three per cent, but have "no noticeable impact" on smog-forming or other toxic air pollutants. The Trump administration released plans to freeze vehicle mileage goals and do away with California's right to set its own, more stringent emissions rules.

The proposal argues that forcing automakers to reach a fleet-wide average of 51.4 miles per gallon by 2025, as the Obama administration required, would make vehicles more expensive and encourage people to stick to driving older, less-safe cars and trucks.

The greatest increase in greenhouse gas emissions would happen in the 2030s because electric cars will grow significantly by the 2040s, the Energy Innovation analysis found.

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. He cautions that as the EPA provides more information about its new proposed standard, those calculations may change.

But critics of the proposal note that the auto industry had a stretch of strong sales from 2010 to 2017, with several years seeing record sales, because consumers want more fuel-efficient vehicles. "Kicking California bullies out of the fuel economy playground will expand consumer choice, while making new cars more affordable". It says keeping the Obama-era standards in place would increase the cost of an average vehicle by $2,340, prompting consumers to hold back in buying newer, safer vehicles and end up aging the nation's fleet of cars on the road.

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