Sat, Aug 04, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Trump proposes rollback to car mileage standards

AP, WASHINGTON

Citing safety, the administration of US President Donald Trump on Thursday proposed rolling back car mileage standards, backing away from years of government efforts to cut Americans’ trips to gas stations and reduce unhealthy, climate-changing tailpipe emissions.

If the proposed rule becomes final, it could roil the auto industry as it prepares for new model years and weaken one of the federal government’s chief weapons against climate change — regulating emissions from cars and other vehicles.

The result would be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death, opponents said.

The proposal itself estimated that it could cost tens of thousands of jobs — auto workers who deal with making vehicles more fuel efficient.

The administration also said it wants to revoke an authority granted to California under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own, tougher mileage standards.

California and 16 other states have already filed suit to block any change in the fuel efficiency rules.

“The EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] has handed decisionmaking over to the fossil fuel lobbyists ... the flat-Earthers, the climate change deniers,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.

The proposal would freeze US mileage standards at levels mandated by the administration of former US president Barack Obama for 2020, when the new vehicle fleet would be required to hit an average of 12.8 kilometers per liter in real-world driving.

The proposed change, halting further improvement requirements, stakes its case on consumer choice and on highway safety claims challenged by many transportation experts.

The administration has said that waiving requirements for greater fuel efficiency would make cars and light trucks somewhat more affordable, which would get vehicles with the latest technology into the hands of consumers more quickly.

It has “everything to do with just trying to turn over the fleet ... and get more clean and safe cars on the road,” EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum said.

The administration will now seek public comment on its proposal and a range of other options, including leaving the tighter, Obama fuel standards in place.

Some US Republican lawmakers supported the mileage freeze, but environmental groups and many states assailed it.

“This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken,” Healey said. “It’s going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump.”

The EPA under Obama had proposed mileage standards that would gradually become tougher, rising to 15.3 kilometers per liter in 2025, significantly higher than the current requirement.

California and automakers agreed to the rules in 2012, setting a single national fuel economy standard.

Soon after taking office, Trump called for a rollback, urging “common sense changes” if the mileage requirements threatened auto industry jobs.

However, his administration’s report on Thursday projected that relaxing mileage standards would cost 60,000 auto jobs by 2030.

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