President Trump proposes car-mileage rollback; states sue in protest

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Trump's Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a proposed rulemaking to adjust the automobile fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards to give Americans access to safer, cleaner, and ultimately, more affordable cars.

The administration said the freeze would boost US 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. California and 16 other states already have filed suit to block any change in the fuel efficiency rules. In 2012, the Obama administration directed automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new vehicles by 2025.

And while automakers initially asked the Trump administration to loosen fuel economy requirements, this impending legal battle is one they would rather avoid.

"We are delivering on President Trump's promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards", Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, adding that the White House is seeking a solution amenable to all 50 states. The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said.

The Trump administration wants more gas guzzlers.

Today the Trump administration unveiled its proposal to roll back the federal emissions standards set under President Barack Obama.

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In fact, out of the 32 quarters that president Obama was in office, 15 of them had an annualized growth rate north of 2%. The result was boosted by a budget deal at the start of the year that added billions to defense and domestic spending.

The administration billed the proposed rollback from Obama-era fuel efficiency standards as a way to help auto companies and lower vehicle prices for consumers, but critics said the plan would accelerate climate change and increase fuel prices. Whereas under the previous rules enacted in 2012, CAFE targets would ramp up every year, the new proposal intends to keep the 2020 numbers in place through 2026.

The 20 state attorney generals see a different issue. "The administration's announcement that it will relax future fuel economy (CAFE) standards is good news for consumers", Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment, said in a statement. Some of the states poised to join the suit, including Pennsylvania, adhere to California's stricter standards.

But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable. Yet for President Donald Trump, who's prioritized eliminating regulations, the auto rules represent a grand prize. California and 18 other states that follow the same guidelines have promised to sue. "The data and science does not back up what they are trying to do, which is to eviscerate these California standards". Currently California has a special waiver under the Clean Air Act to enact stricter rules than those at the federal level. Also, and manufacturers are talking about kind of having two different standards.

"Unless the Obama administration's punishing standards are changed, consumer choice will be limited and the cost of vehicles will skyrocket", said Republican Senator John Barrasso.

In 2012, when the standards were first adopted, cars were about 50 per cent of new-vehicle sales.