US EPA to relax fuel efficiency standards for autos

Pollution

The EPA, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will burn the midnight oil as far as setting new standards is concerned.

"From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama's Clean Power Plan and WOTUS, and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites that have been languishing for decades, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump's agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship", Wilcox said.

Former President Barack Obama's EPA "made assumptions about the standards that didn't comport with reality, and set the standards too high", Pruitt said in a statement.

Vermont is among a dozen states that have adopted California's low-emission fuel economy standards.

So Pruitt and his team at the EPA found and used a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows the agency's administrator to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval, the Atlantic reported.

Pruitt has declined to comment on the rental arrangement reported last week and a spokesman for the agency on Friday defended his conduct and said the lease agreement was in line with federal ethical regulations.

While a trade group representing the US auto industry said a review of fuel standards was the right move, critics said it would hurt the average consumer.

It said it has completed a review affecting vehicles to be released between 2022-25 but did not provide details on new standards.

"It is very right for us to be here to recognize that what was done in 2011 and 2012, as we evaluate now, is not appropriate going forward and we're going to get it right", Pruitt said.

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According to the EPA, in late 2016 the Obama Administration "short-circuited the MTE process and rushed out their final determination on January 12, 2017, just days before leaving office".

Copying a 2002 California law, President Barack Obama in 2011 announced a deal with US and foreign automakers (including some that had just received a federal bailout) to have cars and light trucks average 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025.

Adding to the complexity, the auto industry doesn't want a straight rollback of federal rules, even if it would like more time to comply with standards and also relief in the form of more credits for specific technologies.

Now that the standards are being revised, automakers can meet the less-stringent fuel economy standards without requiring additional electric or hybrid vehicles in their vehicle lineups, a move that will likely upset environmental groups.

If automakers complied with the rules exclusively by improving the fuel economy of their engines, new cars and light trucks on the road would average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 (the charts here break out standards for cars and light trucks separately).

The standards called for roughly doubling by 2025 the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles sold in the United States to about 50 miles (80 km) per gallon - however, that actually is equivalent to about 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving.

"There's an opportunity for us to lead the global market in cleaner, more efficient cars", she said. In announcing the changes, Pruitt is seeking to override California's authority to set its own standard. In return for their rescue by USA taxpayers, Detroit automakers agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions from their cars and light trucks.

Mary Barra, the head of General Motors, said last month her company is committed to zero emissions and an all-electric line. This so-called unified national program is a high priority for the auto industry because companies don't want to build two sets of cars-one for California and its followers, and another for the remaining states.

At an invitation-only event at the EPA headquarters, Pruitt promised automakers and dealers that he would keep listening to their objections to the Obama administration's rules and rewrite them in a way that the industry would see as more palatable.

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