Science

19 states vow to sue over proposed fuel efficiency rollbacks

19 states vow to sue over proposed fuel efficiency rollbacks”

In one of its most significant efforts yet to curtail policies created to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed freezing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels, removing the requirement that cars and light trucks be able to travel more than 46 miles per gallon of fuel by 2026.

The administration argues its proposal will reduce traffic fatalities by keeping the cost of vehicles down compared with the current emissions standards, which it claims are a safety hazard that "restrict the American people from being able to afford newer vehicles with more advanced safety features, better fuel economy, and associated environmental benefits". According to the EPA's proposal, "Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks", the agency would amend the rules to retain standards for model year 2020.

While the new standard is significantly lower than Obama's 2025 target of 54 miles per gallon, the difference is expected to have a minimal impact on climate.

Schwarzenegger weighed in shortly after the Trump administration announced that it would move to roll back former President Obama's fuel economy and global warming standards for cars.

Myron Ebell, a senior energy scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Trump EPA transition chair, cheered the Trump administration's proposed rule change on Thursday.

The Trump administration has moved to weaken United States vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra signaled in July a willingness to take the administration to court to protect the state's authority.

But advocates criticised the weakening of environmental rules.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention Friday
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention Friday

In addition, officials from the EPA and DOT, in a joint teleconference, said older cars are less safe, potentially increasing the number of those killed on the road.

The states that have adopted California's emission rules together make up about one third of the USA auto market.

The administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles". It said the freeze would boost USA oil consumption by around 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the 2030s, decrease vehicle-related fatalities by encourage consumers to buy new, safer cars - Autoblog scrutinizes that claim here - and lower projected regulatory costs for automakers by $319 billion through 2029. Colorado is set to become the 13th state soon.

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

Once finalized, Democrats, led by top members on the Environment and Public Works Committee, plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the Trump administration's fuel efficiency strategy, Sen.

The rollback would undermine efforts by California and several other states to meet commitments the USA made in the Paris agreement on climate change.

The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it. Automakers, who had asked to be relieved of some of the mandates, have expressed misgivings about having to accommodate a patchwork of federal and state standards.



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