Energy

‘It Would Save 12,000 Lives’: Andrew Wheeler Stumps Dem Senator Chastising Trump Admin For Backing Off Obama-Era Fuel Standards

REUTERS

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting administrator Andrew Wheeler pushed back against assertions that a draft Trump administration proposal reducing fuel efficiency standards would help industry while harming Americans.

Wheeler testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Wednesday less than a month after he took control of the EPA. Wheeler’s appearance marks the first time he has sat before Congress since taking over the agency.

Democrat Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts tried to corner Wheeler, accusing the acting administrator and the Trump administration of acting in the best interests of oil companies to the detriment of consumers and the environment. (RELATED: Environmentalists Are Disrupting Wheeler’s Congressional Hearings Less Than A Month Into His Term At EPA)

“Over the lifetime of the current fuel-economy standards, consumers will save $1 trillion on gasoline and will keep $12 billion barrels of oil in the ground,” Markey said at the beginning of his questioning. “That’s the simple formula for fuel-economy. You save consumers money and you save the planet at the same time.”

The Obama administration placed increasingly strict fuel-economy standards on car manufacturers’ vehicle fleets in 2012. Under the Obama-era rule, a carmaker’s fleet of vehicle models must average 39 miles per gallon in 2020 and 50 miles per gallon in 2025. The Trump administration is considering freezing the fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels, according to Bloomberg.

No official proposal on the matter has been made.

The oil industry is “scared to death that $1 trillion will stay stranded in the pockets of consumers, and that is why the Trump administration is moving to roll back these standards,” Markey said before asking Wheeler if leaving the standards in place would result in more demand and consumption of oil.

“I believe the analysis shows that more oil would be consumed,” Wheeler answered. “But it would also save 12,000 lives and $500 billion.”

Markey recognized that Wheeler was correct about an increase in oil consumption but ignored the second part of Wheeler’s answer. The senator then asked if the Trump proposal would increase the price of gas relative to the current standards, citing the nonprofit environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists that claimed the Trump proposal would cost drivers $20 billion in extra fuel costs in 2025.

“That I do not know. I know that we have $500 billion in savings to the American consumers under the proposal,” Wheeler answered.

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