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. That ignores the fact that more fuel-efficient vehicles are cheaper to operate since drivers have to buy less gas.
Officials said the change to fuel efficiency rules would offer a "much-needed time-out from further costly increases".
Proposed fuel economy rules won't be as strict as those set out in 2012.
But in a statement published on The Wall Street Journal's website Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the Obama-era standards would "impose significant costs on American consumers and eliminate jobs".
At press time, only Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had responded to the proposed rules: "The proposal includes a range of options, and we will carefully evaluate how each aligns with FCA's goals of continuous improvement in vehicle efficiency and, at the same time, building vehicles customers want, at prices they can afford". "The Trump administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's clean vehicle standards", Becerra said on Twitter.
"EPA is proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California in 2013 for the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] and ZEV [Zero Emissions Vehicles] requirements of its Advanced Clean Cars program", the proposal says. However, the Trump administration's EPA proposal would require California to abide by federal rules, rather than set its own.
The proposal would freeze an effort by the Obama administration meant to promote auto fuel efficiency and curb tailpipe emissions of climate-changing pollutants.
In the years before California's extremely strict clean air rules, there were smog-filled skies that were fairly common.
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. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday. And with President Donald Trump in the White House, the group would need a veto-proof majority to prevent the changes from going forward, should they actually receive and win a floor vote.
But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable. The new proposal would freeze standards at 2020 levels.
More than a dozen states follow California's standards, amounting to about 40 per cent of the country's new-vehicle market.
Many U.S. states have adopted California's emission rules, and together they make up about one third of the U.S. auto market - making the stakes for the auto industry enormous. The affordability argument also ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said. Also, and manufacturers are talking about kind of having two different standards. "But if not, I'd remind them that California has won this battle before".