The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to rescind fuel efficiency regulations that formed a key part of the Obama administration’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the Paris climate accord.
EPA will announce on Tuesday that 2012 fuel efficiency standards for cars made in 2022 to 2025 is too aggressive for automakers to meet, setting off a rulemaking process that will take months to finalize.
Rescinding the 2012 auto industry rules could set off a legal battle between EPA and California, which was granted a waiver under the Obama administration to set its own mileage standards. Conservatives want Pruitt to rescind California’s waiver and toss out the federal standard.
“Fuel economy mandates restrict consumer choice, add thousands of dollars to the cost of new vehicles, and limit vehicle safety,” Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in an emailed statement.
“Contrary to the program’s original rationale, the world is not running out of oil,” Lewis said.
But EPA’s move also marks another shot against President Barack Obama’s emissions pledge under the Paris accord, which he joined in 2016. The Obama administration committed the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
Fuel efficiency regulations were a key part of cutting U.S. emissions. The Obama-era rules required cars to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Officials estimated the rules would cut 540 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save consumers money.
Democrats and environmentalists have opposed the Trump administration’s plan to rollback Obama-era fuel efficiency regulations.
Clean car standards will benefit the economy, create more jobs, and cut pollution, according to a new economic study. Learn more: https://t.co/EanYkHnWP5
— NRDC (@NRDC) April 2, 2018
However, automakers missed fuel efficiency targets for model year 2016 cars and light trucks by about 9 grams per mile. Indeed, the Obama EPA’s own analysis found cars may not meet the 2025 target, only getting between 50 and 52.6 miles per gallon by then.
The auto industry initially lobbied the Trump administration to review the mileage standards. The Auto Alliance called the Obama EPA’s 2016 decision to keep the standards an “extraordinary and premature rush to judgment circumvents the serious analysis necessary to make sure the standards appropriately balance fuel efficiency, carbon reduction, affordability and employment.”
But now, some automakers are pushing for the Trump administration to keep the standards in place and allow for more flexibility in meeting them. Top executives at Ford Motor Company want “one set of standards nationally, along with additional flexibility to help us provide more affordable options for our customers,” they wrote in a Medium post.
Critics have pushed back, saying the fuel efficiency regulations are, in fact, inefficient and allow the government to manipulate the auto industry.
“And even if you worry about global warming, fuel efficiency standards are a stupendously inefficient climate change mitigation strategy,” CEI’s Lewis said. “Congress should end the reign of bureaucrats and put consumers back in charge of telling automakers what kinds of cars and trucks to produce.”