EPA wants to give automakers a break on fuel economy rules. But that might not help

The Environment Protection Agency wants to give automakers a break on emissions rules established under the Obama Adm...

Posted: Apr 3, 2018 10:49 AM
Updated: Apr 3, 2018 10:49 AM

The Environment Protection Agency wants to give automakers a break on emissions rules established under the Obama Administration. But that might not be enough to help manufacturers.

The agency said that the Obama rules are inappropriate and will be revised in a statement on Monday. But about a third of the country operates under tougher emission rules that were established by the state of California, and are currently followed by another 12 other states. And so far the EPA is not seeking to upend those tougher rules. Instead it will try to reach an agreement with California on a single national standard.

As long as a third of the nation operates under the tougher California rules, automakers will have to make cars that comply with the more stringent requirements. So even if the EPA does ease up emissions standards, they'll still be under pressure to make more fuel efficient vehicles, such as plug-ins.

Greenhouse gas emissions are tied directly to how much gasoline a car burns. So any rule requiring lower greenhouse gas emissions requires higher fuel mileage.

The automakers are on record saying they're not sure they can meet the Obama administration's aggressive target to raise corporate average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. They also desperately want is a single national standard so they can sell cars that comply with all rules.

The EPA said the waiver granted to California to set a separate, tougher standard is still being reexamined by EPA.

"It is in America's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Related: Why gas-powered cars aren't going away

Officials in California made clear Monday they're not prepared to drop their tougher standards.

"We're ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards and to fight the Administration's war on our environment," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Some advocates of better fuel economy worry that even if the California standards remain in place, the automakers will sell less fuel efficient cars and trucks in the two-thirds of the nation that isn't covered by those rules.

"The may dump dirty cars on two-thirds of the nation," said David Friedman, director of car policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

The original rule called for EPA to reevaluate the new, tougher standards part way through the process to see if they were realistic. But just before Obama left office, the EPA determined that the rule should stand as it was originally designed.

"The Obama Administration's determination was wrong," said Pruitt Monday. "Obama's EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn't comport with reality, and set the standards too high."

Pruitt has advocated rolling back a number of environmental rules at the bequest of various industries. He said last year he wanted to review the new emissions rules, so Monday's action had been expected.

The statement Monday didn't provide any specifics about what the new rules will entail.

Critics of Pruitt and the Trump EPA argue that automakers are better off making cars and trucks with better fuel economy.

"Fuel efficiency sells vehicles. Rolling back standards will curb the sale of vehicles," said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at the Consumer Federation of America.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
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Scott266354
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Randolph240781
Washington240732
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Starke216654
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Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
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Perry183037
Rush173425
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Franklin168135
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Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
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Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1085733

Reported Deaths: 19441
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1261201400
Cuyahoga1124072120
Hamilton801491206
Montgomery515591014
Summit47292946
Lucas42275788
Butler38396584
Stark32412907
Lorain25046481
Warren24313300
Mahoning21629588
Lake20725369
Clermont19803238
Delaware18537133
Licking16436212
Fairfield16230200
Trumbull16082468
Medina15309264
Greene15099244
Clark14017299
Wood13113189
Portage12890203
Allen11675232
Richland11382199
Miami10686217
Wayne8843211
Columbiana8816229
Muskingum8815133
Pickaway8582121
Marion8539135
Tuscarawas8487244
Erie7917154
Hancock6929127
Ross6858155
Ashtabula6830170
Geauga6697148
Scioto6417101
Belmont5920167
Union571048
Lawrence5560102
Jefferson5544151
Huron5439119
Darke5364123
Sandusky5359121
Seneca5290121
Athens520058
Washington5160109
Auglaize491984
Mercer480885
Shelby470093
Knox4495110
Madison436661
Putnam4287100
Fulton423969
Ashland423189
Defiance421097
Crawford3978107
Brown395057
Logan382376
Preble379898
Clinton372963
Ottawa367479
Highland355662
Williams340275
Champaign333458
Guernsey316253
Jackson312652
Perry295350
Morrow285639
Fayette282250
Hardin271464
Henry269366
Coshocton265357
Holmes2611101
Van Wert243763
Adams238552
Pike237734
Gallia235949
Wyandot231555
Hocking215462
Carroll191647
Paulding173340
Meigs144940
Noble133337
Monroe132342
Harrison108537
Morgan108523
Vinton83515
Unassigned02
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