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Washington Might Compromise On Fuel Economy Standards Rollback

The Trump administration, which vowed to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards to make cars more affordable might stop short of freezing these at 2020 levels, AP’s Tom Krisher reports, citing a statement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority.

The NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday submitted their final rules on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Details of these were not disclosed but the NHTSA issued a statement that said, among other things, that the new rules will reduce emissions from new vehicles while making them more affordable for everyone.

“When finalized, this rule will be a win for all Americans,” the statement also said.

Last year, the administration proposed freezing fuel economy standards at the level that will be in effect this year rather than allowing them to continue to tighten as they were planned to do under the Obama legislation.

The argument in favour of a freeze ran along the lines of making new cars more affordable—lower fuel economy standards would reduce the manufacturing costs for a car—and hence safer because newer cars are safer than older models and the more new cars people bought, the more safer cars they got.

Not everyone agreed with this rationale for rolling back the fuel economy standards approved by the previous administration, including the EPA itself, whose Science Advisory Board wrote that “There are significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis of the proposed rule.”

This disagreement notoriously pit the White House against California, which said it will seek to enforce its own fuel standards. Washington last year revoked the state’s right to set its own exhaust gas standards and requirement for the increase of zero-emission cars, and California responded with the threat to sue once the new fuel economy standard rules were approved.

One energy policy firm estimated the fuel economy standard freeze could end up costing $400 billion through 2050.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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