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The Trump administration will later today announce the new fuel economy rules that environmentalists have decried as harmful and compromising the United States’ efforts to fight climate change.
“When finalized, the rule will benefit our economy, will improve the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, will make vehicles more affordable, and will save lives by increasing the safety of new vehicles,” EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeier said yesterday, ahead of the announcement, as quoted by the AP.
“This is first time that an administration has pursued a policy that will net negative benefit for society and reduce fuel savings,” a former EPA official, Chet France, said.
The administration proposed the new rules that would effectively roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards for automakers in 2018, recommending the freezing of the mile-per-gallon standards for passenger cars and light trucks after model year 2020.
The proposed rulemaking of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the EPA was intended “to correct the national automobile fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards to give the American people greater access to safer, more affordable vehicles that are cleaner for the environment,” the Department of Transportation said at the time.
Since then, the NHTSA has tweaked those rules, so instead of freezing the mile-per-gallon emission standards for six years to 2026, the administration is now proposing an increase to fuel economy by 1.5 percent annually. The Obama-era regulations called for a 5% increase to fuel economy each year.
According to some opponents, the emissions could end up being even worse.
“The SAFE vehicles rule, if finalized in its present form, will lead to vehicles that are neither safer, nor more affordable or fuel efficient,” Democratic Senator Thomas Carper, from the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, said in January.
The proposed rules pitted Trump against California, with the state refusing to comply with relaxed emission rules and insisting on enforcing its own, much stricter ones. Several other states also said they would implement their own more stringent emissions rules. The feud drew in carmakers, too, with the majors split between the camps.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.