Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama’s Strict Emissions Standards
President Donald Trump‘s administration released a proposal to roll back greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for automobiles on Thursday.
The move guts a 2012 rule, implemented by former President Barack Obama, to fight climate change, that required automakers to produce more electric vehicles and reach a 54 mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency standard by 2025. Obama sought to add to the fuel standards in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut down on greenhouse gases, but automakers fought the changes.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation said the increase in emission standards for cars built from 2021 to 2026 would hurt car sales. Now Trump has opted to freeze fuel efficiency standards already at 37 miles per gallon. The administration said the freeze would boost U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the 2030s, and argued it would prevent up to 1,000 traffic fatalities per year by reducing the price of new vehicles and so prompting people to buy newer, safer vehicles more quickly.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the proposal is aimed to strike a balance “that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less. More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment,” he told Politico.
The proposal also eliminates a waiver that previously allowed California, which comprises one third of the American auto market, to set its own, more ambitious fuel efficiency and electric vehicle standards.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in a statement, “This administration has, once again, ignored the obvious right answer and decided to listen to the most extreme voices as it pushes through a plan that no one is interested in — with the exception of the oil industry, perhaps.” Rolling back the rules would make American cars less competitive in a global market that is trending toward more efficient vehicles, he said.
Environmental groups criticized the assertion about reducing crash deaths and said the proposal would drive up gasoline prices, increase asthma-inducing smog and reverse one of the most significant steps Washington has taken to curb climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.
“This proposal is completely unacceptable,” Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “It’s an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America’s auto industry.”
California and 18 other U.S. states promised on Thursday to fight the Trump administration proposal. California attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a statement, “The Trump administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation’s clean car standards . . . We will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight back.”