Energy

Documents Show EPA Tried To ‘Soften’ Trump’s Plan To Roll Back Climate Regulations On Cars

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials sought to “soften” the Trump administration’s rolling back of Obama-era global warming regulations for new cars and trucks.

Newly released documents show EPA staff unsuccessfully tried “to soften the government’s proposal to ease vehicle emission standards,” Bloomberg reported.

EPA fought for “some flexible compliance options that make it easier for automakers to satisfy the requirements, such as by averaging fuel economy across their entire fleet or rewarding innovative features that make cars more efficient,” according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg noted that EPA also “objected to a plan to end a program giving credit for air conditioning system improvements” and questioned some of the assumptions used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — the agency leading the deregulatory effort.

EPA “objected to a plan to end a program giving credit for air conditioning system improvements” and “balked at an effort to strip away a program making it easier for automakers to satisfy vehicle requirements for other pollutants — methane and nitrous oxide — at the same time they comply with the greenhouse gas standards,” Bloomberg reported.

EPA and NHTSA jointly announced a proposal in August to roll back Obama administration regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks. Obama officials said emissions standards would increase fuel economy to 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Trump administration, however, plans on suspending fuel economy increases after 2020, meaning cars are expected to average 37 miles per gallon. The administration said the rollback would save consumers money and save 1,000 lives a year from fatal accidents.

Democrats and environmentalists criticized the Trump administration’s rolling back of Obama-era climate regulations on cars. Senate Democrats tore into EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler over the proposal during a recent hearing.

“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,” Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said during the hearing. (RELATED: Ryan Zinke Shifts The Wildfire Debate From Global Warming To Anti-Logging ‘Environmental Terrorists’)

“That’s the simple formula for fuel-economy. You save consumers money and you save the planet at the same time,” Markey said.

However, the government’s regulatory analysis showed Obama-era fuel economy rules would have an impact on global warming that’s so tiny it’s “too small to measure in practice.”

“I believe the analysis shows that more oil would be consumed,” Wheeler responded to senators in an August hearing. “But it would also save 12,000 lives and $500 billion.”

But Wheeler’s own agency seemed to question the assumptions around the claim that stricter emissions standards pushed people to drive older, less safe cars.

“What data supports the implication that the standards to date have led to fatality increases?” EPA wrote in its feedback on the rule while it was being reviewed by the White House.

EPA also challenged the claim that “changes in prices, fuel economy, and other attributes expected to result” from the rule, Bloomberg noted.

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