EPA announces easing of car and truck emissions standards
Agency says Barack Obama’s timeline set standards ‘too high’ in move that could lead to legal showdown with California
Mon 2 Apr 2018 23.41 BST
US environmental regulators announced on Monday they would ease emissions standards for cars and trucks, saying that a timeline put in place by Barack Obama was not appropriate and set standards “too high”.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it had completed a review that would affect vehicles for model years 2022-25 but it did not provide details on new standards, which it said would be forthcoming. Current regulations from the EPA require the fleet of new vehicles to get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025. That’s about 10 miles per gallon over the existing standard.
The agency said in its decision that the regulation set under the Obama administration “presents challenges for auto manufacturers due to feasibility and practicability, raises potential concerns related to automobile safety, and results in significant additional costs on consumers, especially low-income consumers”.
The EPA, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will work to come up with new standards.
Automakers applauded Monday’s decision, arguing that the current requirements would have cost the industry billions of dollars and raised vehicle prices due to the cost of developing the necessary technology.
“This was the right decision, and we support the Administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of communications and public affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in a statement. “We appreciate that the Administration is working to find a way to both increase fuel economy standards and keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans.”
Environmentalists, meanwhile, warned the proposed rollbacks would make American cars more expensive to fill up.
“No one in America is eager to buy a car that gets worse gas mileage and spews more pollution from its tailpipe,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Designing and building cleaner, more cost-efficient cars is what helped automakers bounce back from the depths of the recession and will be key to America’s global competitiveness in the years ahead.”
Any change is likely to set up a lengthy legal showdown with California, which has the power to set its own pollution and gas mileage standards and doesn’t want them to change. About a dozen other states follow California’s rules, and together they account for more than one-third of the vehicles sold in the US. Currently the federal and California standards are the same.