EPA Expected to Loosen Obama-Era Fuel Efficiency Regulations
The Trump Administration is expected to announce plans to cut back on Obama-era automobile regulations that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the fuel economy of vehicles.
Obama’s vehicle efficiency regulations originally set a goal of increasing the fuel economy to a little over 50 miles per gallon for car manufacturers by 2025 in order to address greenhouse gas emissions’ impact on global warming. The E.P.A. projects that about 12 billion barrels of oil and six billion tons of carbon dioxide would have been slashed if the regulations were successful, reported the New York Times.
However, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has argued that the Obama-era regulations, set in 2012, burden today’s automobile industry, according to a March 13 interview with Bloomberg.
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, or CAFE, remain unrealistically high under current regulations, Pruitt argued, leading to an increase of production for pricey yet fuel-efficient vehicles that ultimately have low value with consumers. Because of this, and coupled with the decreasing cost of gas, less fuel-efficient cars remain on the road while more fuel-efficient cars remain on the market.
“The whole purpose of CAFE standards is to make cars more efficient that people are actually buying,” Pruitt told Bloomberg. “And if you just come in and try to drive this to a point where the auto sector in Detroit just makes cars that people don’t want to purchase, then people are staying in older cars, and the emission levels are worse, which defeats the overall purpose of what we’re trying to achieve.”
Still, in order to successfully roll back on these regulations, the EPA must confront the challenge of California, one of 13 states that have vowed to adhere to current fuel economy standards even if the federal regulations weaken. California and the other states comprise a third of the nation’s auto industry, according to Bloomberg.
If California and the 12 other states continue to follow current fuel economy rules, the U.S.’ car manufacturing market may be split in two, a reality that may severely impede the auto industry. Automakers would have to manage fuel economies by each individual state, making costs higher for manufacturers, reported Reuters.
While automaker lobbyists have called on Washington to weaken the Obama-era regulations, they also continue to insist that the conversations lead to a middle ground with California in order to avoid any such reality.
A final determination on the regulations will be signed on April 1, according to an EPA spokesperson, although the full proposal may come in later months.