States vow to press fight against Trump's auto fuel rules

Pat Wise
August 4, 2018

The Trump administration today formally proposed weakening Obama-era clean vehicle rules and pre-empting states from setting tougher standards. For example, Obama's EPA argued that a dual-clutch transmission would soon be widely adopted as a cost-effective way to get more miles per gallon.

Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump called for a rollback, urging "common sense changes" if the mileage requirements threatened auto industry jobs. California and the automakers agreed to the rules in 2012, setting a single national fuel economy standard.

As vehicle manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say.

The auto industry, which has often baulked at the higher costs associated with the tougher U.S. standards, strongly backs a national standard that could be negotiated between Washington and California.

The Natural Resources Council of ME said the changes will result in more harmful pollutants drifting into ME - which already has among the nation's highest asthma rates - and "adds insult to injury by also eliminating states' rights to set our own clean auto standards".

At press time, only Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had responded to the proposed rules: "The proposal includes a range of options, and we will carefully evaluate how each aligns with FCA's goals of continuous improvement in vehicle efficiency and, at the same time, building vehicles customers want, at prices they can afford".

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The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost. California and 18 other states that follow the same guidelines have promised to sue. The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered the climate impact of utilities, but transportation is proving more stubborn.

It would also worsen air quality problems in Southern California and other areas where officials are already struggling to clean smog and ease rates of asthma and other illnesses.

And California Attorney General Xavier Becrra also expressed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration's proposal to weaken national greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency regulations at the expense of public health and the environment.

Continuing its assault on federal rules created to protect the environment and combat global warming, the Trump administration has proposed weakening future fuel efficiency standards for American cars and trucks. And what the Trump administration is doing in trying to roll those back, it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars more at the pump.

Some Republican lawmakers supported the mileage freeze, but environmental groups and many states assailed it. That would price many buyers out of the new-vehicle market, forcing them to drive older, less-safe vehicles that pollute more, the administration says. They claimed the reduced standards would make new cars more affordable. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

"It's an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America's auto industry", said Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. The rulemaking will set the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) and light-duty vehicle greenhouse emissions standards for light trucks and will set the greenhouse gas and mileage standards for 2021-2026.

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