Trump proposes capping fuel economy standards at 2020 level

Trump's EPA formally launches attack on California's fuel-economy rules

The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives - the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per auto, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say.

Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say. "More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment". Further, the administration is looking to strip California of the waiver that allows it to set its own standards. Trump's proposal lowers that to around 35 mpg by the year 2020.

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision past year to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The reversal of an Obama-era deal with automakers in 2012 will also withdraw a waiver California has under the Clean Air Act to exceed the national standards by requiring even more efficient cars.

It's costly for companies to design and build vehicles for California and states that follow its rules, and a different set for the rest of the country.

"For an administration that is happy to let states set their own rules when it comes to weakening environmental protection, it's the height of hypocrisy to deny California and a dozen other states their right to protect their people from global warming", Becker said in a statement.

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The administration said that after cars reach the 2020 standard, additional gains are incremental and that the benefit to making roads safer outweighs any environmental risk.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted soon after the White House announced the policy change that she saw this as proof that the Trump administration was prioritizing "lining the pockets of big oil over protecting our right to breathe clean air". California received the exemption - the only state to do so - decades ago because it was already developing its own standards when federal rules were being written.

Mitch Bailwol, the president and chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in April that he remains committed to one national mileage and emissions standard.

The administration's proposal asserts that "attempting to solve climate change, even in part" is "fundamentally different" from the Clean Air Act's "original objective of addressing smog-related air quality problems".

The Obama administration had planned to keep toughening fuel requirements through 2026, saying those and other regulations on vehicles would save 40,000 lives annually through cleaner air.

Auto jobs were not a major part of administration officials' case Thursday for the rollbacks.

California - which is playing a world-leading role in setting aggressive climate goals and building strong coalitions of partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States and around the globe - will convene the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September.

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