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Trump administration wants to roll back Obama-era mileage standards

04 August 2018

Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the freeze would reduce highway deaths by 1,000 per year "by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars".

The average fuel economy during Obama's tenure was around 25 mpg.

The Trump administration's plan to relax fuel-economy and vehicle pollution standards could be a boon to USA oil producers who've quietly lobbied for the measure. At present, the auto industry is on track to meet or exceed the clean vehicle standards at issue. What this plan really does is encourage people to stick to driving older, less safe vehicles.

Both the targets from the Obama and Trump eras will not apply uniformly to all vehicles, instead vehicles will be assessed based on their footprint and respective category, passenger vehicle or light truck.

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel efficient and less polluting, a major rollback already being challenged in the courts by California and other states. Included in the proposal is a section that would revoke California's waiver allowing the state to set its own emission standards, which are actually stronger than the federal government's rules.

Nearly immediately, there was unsurprising backlash.

The White House also wants to strip California of its special right to set its own fuel economy levels for automobiles due to the fact that it has higher pollution levels than the rest of the country, which has led to a legal battle with individual states - shortly after the announcement on Thursday, 19 states and Washington D.C. said they would sue the administration over the plans. "Arnold Schwarzenegger, represented by then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown", Frank said.

The proposal also claims other benefits of freezing fuel economy standards at 2020 levels, including a reduction of "societal costs" by $500 billion and savings of $253 billion from lower new auto prices. Meanwhile, the USA would increase its fuel consumption by about 500,000 barrels of oil per day, contributing to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

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"At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings". All have Democratic attorneys general. "It's a boon for big oil that ordinary Americans will pay for with their health and their wallets".

General Motors said in a statement that it wants to work "with all parties to achieve one national 50-state program", adding it was committed to "continually improving fuel economy and our commitment to an all-electric future". "We urge California and the federal government to find a common-sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers".

GM and other carmakers have sharply criticized the proposed policy. "Ultimately, manufacturers need a single national program that provides regulatory certainty and maintains vehicle affordability", he said.

"With today's release of the Administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin", the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says in a statement. "President Trump should be commended for standing up for American consumers by reducing the regulatory burden placed unnecessarily on automakers".

The resolution demonstrates multi-state support for the existing federal clean auto standards and states' right to adopt California's more stringent standards. The proposal indicates that retaining the MY 2020 standards will save over 500 billion dollars in societal costs and reduce highway fatalities by 12,700 lives over the lifetimes of vehicles through MY 2029.

The Trump administration says if fuel efficiency standards are frozen, people will be able to buy newer, safer vehicles that also pollute less.

NHTSA and the EPA claim current fuel standards are a contributing factor to the increasing cost of new cars that now average $35,000, and backers of the new plan claim keeping current standards will add more than $2,300 to the price of a new vehicle. The Trump administration says it's for safety - keeping cars with advanced safety features cheaper.

CARB Chair Nichols, whose staff has the unenviable task of parsing the almost 1,000-page proposal, said her agency will indeed "figure out how the [Trump] Administration can possibly justify its absurd conclusion that weakening standards to allow dirtier, less efficient vehicles will actually save lives and money".