fuel efficiency

US EPA set to roll back fuel efficiency regulations for vehicles

Fuel efficiency regulations brought in under former US President Barack Obama could be rolled back under the Trump administration after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined they were “too high”.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in a statement that the standards on model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles were not appropriate and should be revised.

The Obama administration set the average fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards “too high” and “made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality,” Pruitt said.

Details on how the regulations would be revised were not forthcoming.

The change in pace is consistent with the EPA’s relaxation of environmental regulations since Trump came to office that has seen civil cases for pollution violations decline by about 50 per cent compared to the first year of the previous three administrations.

The standards called for roughly doubling by 2025 the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles sold in the United States to about 50 miles (80km) per [US] gallon. Proponents said they could help spur innovation in clean technologies.

California has long been allowed by an EPA waiver to impose stricter standards than Washington does on vehicle emissions of some pollutants. Twelve other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, have also followed suit on cleaner cars.

That has set up a battle on vehicle efficiency between California, the most populous US state and a massive car market, and the Trump administration.

Pruitt is a big proponent of states’ rights to regulate themselves, but opposes California’s push for greener cars. California’s waiver to impose its own efficiency standards is being re-examined, the EPA said.

It is in “America’s best interest to have a national standard,” Pruitt said.

California governor Jerry Brown blasted the EPA’s action. “This cynical and meretricious abuse of power will poison our air and jeopardise the health of all Americans,” he said.

Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, said her state “will vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards.”

Auto industry executives have not publicly sought specific reductions in the requirements negotiated with the Obama administration in 2011 as part of a bailout deal.

But they have urged Pruitt and Trump to revise the Obama standards so it becomes easier and less costly to meet complex targets, which vary depending on the size of vehicles and whether they are classified as cars or trucks.

Automakers also want to avoid a patchwork of rules that would add costs to engine manufacturing.

A report last year found that the actual cost for manufacturers to adhere to the regulations could be up to 40 per cent less than previously estimated. 

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