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Trump administration to freeze fuel efficiency requirements

Trump administration to freeze fuel efficiency requirements

Advocacy groups display silhouettes of children meant to represent Americans hurt by air pollution at a protest of the administration's proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards outside the EPA in Washington, Aug. 2, 2018.

"EPA is proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California in 2013 for the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] and ZEV [Zero Emissions Vehicles] requirements of its Advanced Clean Cars program", the proposal says.

California and 16 other states filed suit over the fuel efficiency standards in May, anticipating the new regulation.

In one recent internal presentation, part of which was obtained by The Washington Post, officials at the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality warned that the proposal at that point contained "a wide range of errors, use of outdated data, and unsupported assumptions".

"With today's release of the administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin".

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a press release.

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. The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives - the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per auto, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say. "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers".

The 20 state attorney generals see a different issue. The administration estimates that halting more ambitious fuel efficiency targets would save Americans thousands of dollars on every new vehicle purchased and avoid 1,000 road deaths a year.

"More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment", said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The Obama standards called for vehicles to get around 50 miles to the gallon by the year 2025.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the transportation sector is the nation's largest source of carbon emissions, and cars make up 60 percent of that sector. California and 18 other states that follow the same guidelines have promised to sue.

President Donald Trump had directed the rethink of the mileage regulations, saying in March 2017, "If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes" were needed. "Their own numbers don't even support what I consider the deceptive messaging they're trying to pass on to people".

Trump's decision to challenge California's authority to regulate vehicle emissions upends decades of federal policy that allowed the most populous and richest USA state to combat air pollution that particularly afflicts Los Angeles. That would allow more people to buy cars with enhanced safety features, the government said. Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.

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