Trump EPA expected to roll back auto gas mileage standards

Trump EPA expected to roll back auto gas mileage standards
Traffic streaks along U.S. Highway 50 early in the morning, Friday, March 30, 2018 across the Potomac River from Washington in Arlingotn, Va. The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will roll back automobile gas mileage and pollution standards that were approved during the Obama administration. Current regulations call for new vehicles to get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025. That's about 10 mpg over the existing standard. Automakers say they'll have trouble reaching the new standards because people want bigger vehicles. But environmental groups say the technology exists for automakers to comply. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will roll back automobile gas mileage and pollution standards that were a pillar in the Obama administration's plans to combat climate change.

It's not clear whether the announcement will include a specific number, but current regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency require the fleet of new vehicles to get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025. That's about 10 mpg over the existing standard.

Environmental groups, who predict increased greenhouse gas emissions and more gasoline consumption if the standards are relaxed, say the announcement could come Tuesday at a Virginia car dealership. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in an email Friday that the standards are still being reviewed.

Any change is likely to set up a lengthy legal showdown with California, which currently has the power to set its own pollution and gas mileage standards and doesn't want them to change. About a dozen other states follow California's rules, and together they account for more than one-third of the vehicles sold in the US. Currently the federal and California standards are the same.

Automakers have lobbied to revisit the requirements, saying they'll have trouble reaching them because people are buying bigger vehicles due to low gas prices. They say the standards will cost the industry billions of dollars and raise vehicle prices due to the cost of developing technology needed to raise mileage.

But environmental groups say people will save money at the pump, and the technology is available for the industry to comply.

They also say burning more gasoline will put people's health at risk.

"The American public overwhelmingly supports strong vehicle standards because they cut the cost of driving, reduce air pollution, and combat climate change," said Luke Tonachel, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are involved in setting the standards, which would cover the years 2022 through 2025.

Some conservative groups are pressing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to revoke a waiver that allows California to set its own rules. They say California shouldn't be allowed to set policy for the rest of the nation. Pruitt has publicly questioned the veracity of evidence complied by climate scientists, including those in his own agency, that global warming is overwhelmingly caused by man-made carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

If the waiver is revoked, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says the state will resist. "What we're doing to protect California's environment isn't just good for our communities—it's good for the country," he said in a statement. "We're not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when they threaten our values, we're ready."

Getting rid of the waiver or having two different gas mileage and pollution requirements presents a huge dilemma for automakers: while they would like to avoid fines for failing to meet the standards, they also don't want the expense of building two versions of cars and trucks, one for the California-led states and another for the rest of the country.

Mark Reuss, a General Motors executive vice president who heads product development, said in a recent interview that he would rather have a single nationwide standard, even if it stays the same. He called two standards "just waste," because they would require different equipment on vehicles and costly additional engineering. "I want one good one. That would be wonderful," he said. "I could focus all my engineers on one."

Automakers agreed to the fuel economy standards in 2012 during the Obama administration, but lobbied for and received a midterm review in 2018 to account for changes in market conditions. In the waning days of Obama's presidency, the EPA did the review and proclaimed that the standards have enough flexibility and the technology is available to meet them.

It's likely to take years for the matter to be resolved, and it could become an issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Janet McCabe, who was acting assistant EPA administrator under Obama when the review was done, said Friday it will take a couple years for the EPA to propose new rules, gather public comment and finalize any changes. Any rollback would likely bring legal challenges, forcing Pruitt's EPA to defend the science behind the changes.

"This would all take a long time," said McCabe, now a senior fellow at the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

In the meantime, automakers have to proceed with plans for new vehicles under the current gas mileage requirements because it takes years to develop vehicles.


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Mar 30, 2018
Here is more evidence of the lying hypocrisy of the altright fairytails claim that they are conservatives.

An honest conservative would respect scientific evidence. Would favor technological progress to reduce the inefficiency of polluting engines. Would prefer methods for cost-savings on fuel consumption and machine maintenance.

Sabotaging American interests in advanced energy development? Serves only the interest of the Russians and Saudis to drive up petroleum prices.

Mar 30, 2018
Blanket rules are ridiculous. Fuel consumption not only depends on the efficiency of the motor but on the mass of the vehicle. A blanket rule means that a 2 tonne vehicle must have an engine four times as efficient as a 500kg vehicle.

To make the efficiency target manufacturers make the cars less rigid and less safe, smaller and more cramped.

An efficiency per mass makes much more sense and could include trucks and other heavy vehicles weighing 20 or more tonnes. Is this too hard for dumb politicians?

Mar 31, 2018
RKS - That's not a blanket rule, it's a fleet average; the problem is that vehicles classified as light trucks have a number of reduced safety regulations that make them the most profitable segment to manufacture. Add the widespread psychological weakness of male insecurity, and vast pickup trucks are now the hottest selling personal accessory vehicle. This drives up fleet average fuel consumption.

Mar 31, 2018
RKS, obviously you are no smarter or better informed than the 'dumb politicians'.

Technical Regulations are outlined by research teams. Those findings are then negotiated between:

technical experts paid by a variety of Federal and State offices for analysis & policy development.

technical experts paid by environmental conservation groups and sympathizers.

technical experts paid by the vehicle manufacturers.

As well as other, behind-the-scenes groups. Such as retail chains pushing for smaller vehicles to be produced. That they can crowd smaller parking spaces, increasing the number of customers visiting their stores.

After all the above have sorted out their scientific disputes (but not their conflicts of interests). They release 'papers' proposing changes, corrections, additions and deletions of regulations.

A whole lot of technical jargon is then deposited on Congress to make official.

- cont'd -

Mar 31, 2018
- cont'd -

To assist the congressional staffers sorting through that mess? They ask the opinions of their major campaign contributors. Who tell the congresspersons, in no uncertain terms, what is acceptable to the perceived interests of the guy wielding the power of the checkbook.

This is when the Party Whips try to get that confusion of cats they are herding. To agree to vote their respective party lines. With explicit threats of defunding pet projects of recalcitrant congresspersons.

Frankly & Ernestly, all this mishmash of policy is as fluid as the grease that keeps the system running.

To quote Chancellor Bismarck, "You never want to watch a farmwife make sausages. Nor a legislature making laws!"

And that the first rule of politics is: whatever you are striving for? Sacrificing for? The results will invariably turn out the opposite of your desire.

May 04, 2018
A better method would be to have a fuel efficiency rule relating to weight so that any vehicle from a motorbike through to a freight train could be arrayed along the line (which would not be straight, a two tonne vehicle is going to be more efficient that two one tonne vehicles for instance).

As for the experts, in looking up my statement above to see if anyone actually agreed with it I find that EU the standard does EXACTLY what I said. See the section 'Limit value curve' here:
https://ec.europa.../cars_en

So it is only the less scientifically minded countries that try to mandate blanket targets.

Of course if the intention is to encourage the use of smaller vehicles (as suggested by others here) under the guise emission targets then this sneaky underhanded method may well bear fruit...

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