Trump Administration Aims to Freeze Fuel Standards, End Tougher California Rules

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The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives - the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per auto, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say.

The administration's proposal asserts that "attempting to solve climate change, even in part" is "fundamentally different" from the Clean Air Act's "original objective of addressing smog-related air quality problems".

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the proposal would make cars more affordable and save lives. "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers", the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers, two of the top auto lobbying groups, said in a statement.

Months after they pre-emptively sued to block anticipated efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back mileage regulations, Democratic attorneys general vowed to continue their fight in the courts.

They want to freeze them at the proposed 2020 level. Letting one state make decisions for people in other states makes a bad program even worse, especially since the state is California, which has been pursuing an anti-car agenda for decades.

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"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release on Thursday.

Just as significant, the administration is taking public comment on revoking California's Clean Air Act waiver for greenhouse gases. California, 16 states and the District of Columbia have already filed a lawsuit that challenges the plan's scientific underpinnings.

These changes were expected under the administration of President Donald Trump, who has said that fuel economy standards were imposing greater costs on the average consumer. Assuming, strictly for illustration purposes, a gasoline price of three dollars per gallon, that would result in an increased annual fuel expenditure of about $318.

Trump in March 2017 announced his administration would be reopening a review of the Obama automobile rules that he and some automakers said was unfairly cut short by Obama's EPA.

It argued that this policy change was necessary because the Obama administration's standards "raised the cost and decreased the supply of newer, safer vehicles".

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The waiver allows the state to set tougher tailpipe rules than the federal ones.

Trump's proposal lowers that to around 35 mpg by the year 2020.

Today's cars contain so many computers and must be manufactured to produce so much horsepower out of as little motor as possible that they have become nothing more than rolling computers on the brink of failure.

Pollution from cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles is the California's single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to state data.

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