Trump administration seeks to freeze gas mileage standards for new cars


The Trump administration on Thursday proposed weakening Obama-era mileage standards created to make cars more fuel efficient and less polluting, a major rollback already being challenged in the courts by California and other states. Under the Obama administration, automakers were required to reach a fleetwide average fuel economy for all cars and light trucks of 51.4 miles per gallon by 2025.

Lara, who recently authored a bill that seeks to amend zoning laws to make electric vehicle charging stations more accessible, said he supported the lawsuit filed by almost 20 states, including California, to protect the air quality standards the Trump administration is trying to weaken. Get the full story in the video above.

Those states have said they'll sue to keep their emissions standards on the books.

Another potential wrench in the proposal is that California and several other states have voluntarily adopted higher gas mileage standards, setting up a conflict between automakers that want a uniform standard for all states.

In the years before California's extremely strict clean air rules, there were smog-filled skies that were fairly common.

Administration officials said the Obama rules added US$2,340 to the cost of owning a new auto and that more Americans have been priced out of the market for new vehicles.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted soon after the White House announced the policy change that she saw this as proof that the Trump administration was prioritizing "lining the pockets of big oil over protecting our right to breathe clean air".

As vehicle manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say.

The Trump administration wants more gas guzzlers. But now, the state's emissions standards are in jeopardy.

The administration argues its proposal will reduce traffic fatalities by keeping the cost of vehicles down compared with the current emissions standards, which it claims are a safety hazard that "restrict the American people from being able to afford newer vehicles with more advanced safety features, better fuel economy, and associated environmental benefits".

"Manufacturers really have to assume that the California regulations will stand", said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

"The outcome of unreasonable fuel economy and Carbon dioxide standards: Increased vehicle prices keep consumers in older, dirtier, and less safe vehicles", the EPA said in its proposal.

California is expected to challenge the withdrawal of the waiver in court.

California, which has long had a waiver from the Clean Air Act to set its own standards, also signed off on the rule.

They want to freeze them at the proposed 2020 level.

The debate on fuel economy comes amid friction between the Trump administration and the auto industry due to a Commerce Department review of whether to impose steep tariffs on auto imports.

California and NY are among the states signing on to a statement Thursday pledging legal action against the Trump administration's action on fuel efficiency.

"We applaud the president and the administration for releasing this much anticipated proposal that includes a variety of standards for public consideration", they said.

The Auto Alliance, a lobbying group representing BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo Car USA released a statement supporting the EPA proposal.