The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce very soon that it will abandon mileage targets the Obama administration agreed upon with the state of California, which raises average fuel economy for passenger cars and SUVs to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.
The EPA’s revised standard will be made public sometime in the coming weeks, according to unidentified sources.
EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said a draft determination was being reviewed, and a final decision would be made by Sunday.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt has said that he believes the targets are too stringent for manufacturers producing and selling the vehicles that Americans want to drive. Of course, manufacturers will not be prohibited from making fuel economy gains, no matter what the government decides.
California has the authority under the Clean Air Act to impose its own standard, and they have. The Clean Air Act permits other states to adopt the California rules, and about a quarter of the states have done that.
The US auto industry has requested that these standards be rewritten. It is important to them, however, that only one standard applies across the United States. A separate standard for California and some other states would possibly require multiple production lines to comply with conflicting rules – an unsatisfactory solution.
As reported in The Detroit News,
The auto industry wants a deal with Trump and California in part because it sees an opportunity for rules to be harmonized and made more rational, Bainwol wrote. He discouraged the U.S. and the state from resorting to costly and protracted litigation and said California’s willingness to be flexible on rules leading up to 2025 could lead to an accord with the industry on standards in later years.
The Alliance commissioned a poll last month that found almost two thirds of consumers agreed the government should increase the standards. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult, found support among 69 percent of Democratic respondents and 63 percent of Republicans.
“When you cut through all of the political hyperbole, there will be a common interest in getting to yes,” Bainwol said in the interview with Bloomberg News.
While Americans want higher standards, they also may not be willing to pay a premium for more efficient autos, the poll found. Almost one fourth of respondents said they were willing to pay nothing, while one fifth said they were amenable to the cost being less than $1,000.
So there we have it. Most of the American public believes in Climate Change caused by humans, or they want the savings to their pocketbooks that increased mileage would bring, or both, but they don’t want to pay for the technology that will bring that about.
This could turn out to be a very messy fight. Personally, I don’t see California becoming more rational or amenable to rolling back their mileage standards.
The LA Times reported yesterday:
The state is showing no sign of yielding. And the EPA chief is striking an increasingly hostile tone toward it, suggesting that he may seek to revoke the federal waiver that allows California to impose tougher rules than those of the federal government.
“We are not going to go backward,” said California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. “We are not interested in a race to the bottom…. We are prepared to take whatever action, legal or otherwise, we have to to protect our health and our economy.”
“We didn’t make these moves lightly,” Becerra said of the fuel economy targets. “They came after years of study, scientific evidence, fact-gathering, comment periods, a lot of back and forth among experts and stakeholders. To unwind this and go backward would cost our industries and cost our people billions of dollars. There has to be a good reason to make any kind of move. We have seen nothing change that would make California change its position.”