EPA to keep mileage stan­dards in place

Rules re­quire new cars to av­er­age 54.5 mpg by 2025

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin

DETROIT — The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­cided not to change gov­ern­ment fuel econ­omy re­quire­ments for cars and light trucks de­spite protests from au­tomak­ers.

The de­ci­sion means that au­tomak­ers, at least for now, will still have to meet strict fuel econ­omy re­quire­ments and that com­pa­nies likely will con­tinue build­ing small cars and elec­tric ve­hi­cles still even though peo­ple are buy­ing more SUVs and trucks.

The stan­dards had re­quired the fleet of new cars to av­er­age 54.5 mpg by 2025. But there was a builtin re­duc­tion if buy­ing habits changed, drop­ping the num­ber to 50.8.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gina McCarthy said in a state­ment that based on the agency’s tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis, au­tomak­ers can meet emis­sions stan­dards and mileage re­quire­ments t hrough 2025.

The stan­dards will in- The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­cided not to change gov­ern­ment fuel econ­omy re­quire­ments for cars and light trucks de­spite protests from some au­tomak­ers. crease the new-ve­hi­cle fleet’s av­er­age gas mileage re­quire­ment from 34.1 mpg this year. That will dra­mat­i­cally cut car­bon pol­lu­tion and save U.S. driv­ers bil­lions in gas costs, the EPA said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

“Al­though EPA’s techni- cal anal­y­sis in­di­cates that the stan­dards could be strength­ened for model years 2022-2025, propos­ing to leave the cur­rent stan­dards in place pro­vides greater cer­tainty to the auto in­dus­try for prod­uct plan­ning and en­gi­neer­ing,” Mc- Carthy said in the state­ment.

The EPA will take pub­lic com­ments on the de­ci­sion un­til Dec. 30, after which McCarthy will make a fi­nal de­ci­sion, a rare speedy move for a gov­ern­ment agency.

The quick ap­proval means the de­ci­sion would be­come fi­nal be­fore Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is in­au­gu­rated in Jan­uary, even though a fi­nal de­ci­sion wasn’t re­quired un­til April 2018.

The EPA de­nied that the rushed timetable was due to Trump’s elec­tion.

( Mes­sages were left Wed­nes­day seek­ing com­ment from the Trump tran­si­tion team.)

Trump has stated that he wants to end some gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions and that he wants to get rid of the EPA. Lead­ing Trump’s tran­si­tion team on the EPA is My­ron Ebell, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for En­ergy and En­vi­ron­ment at the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute, a lib­er­tar­ian think tank that gets fi­nan­cial sup­port from the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try and that op­poses “global-warm­ing alarmism.”

The Al­liance of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers, a lob­by­ing group that rep­re­sents 12 au­tomak­ers, i nclud­ing BMW, Toy­ota and Gen­eral Mo­tors, called the quick de­ci­sion a “pre­ma­ture rush to judg­ment” and said it has asked Trump to re­view post­elec­tion reg­u­la­tions.

But Dan Becker, direc­tor of the Safe Cli­mate Cam- paign en­vi­ron­men­tal group, says the stan­dards pushed av­er­age new-ve­hi­cle gas mileage up by 5 mpg since 2007, re­duc­ing Amer­ica’s oil use, help­ing to drive down gaso­line prices world­wide.

The stan­dards were en­acted in 2012 with the ap­proval of the auto in­dus­try and in­cluded a midterm re­view this year.

The in­dus­try has ar­gued that the costs — and con­sumers’ re­luc­tance to buy the smallest, most fuel-ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles — mean the auto in­dus­try will have dif­fi­culty meet­ing the re­quire­ments, which get tougher dur­ing the next nine years.

“The ev­i­dence is abun­dantly clear that with low gas prices, con­sumers are not choos­ing the cars nec­es­sary to com­ply with in­creas­ingly un­re­al­is­tic stan­dards,” the Auto Al­liance said.

Even if Trump rolls back the stan­dards, the auto in­dus­try will con­tinue to sell fuel-ef­fi­cient cars in the U.S. be­cause it has to meet mileage stan­dards in other coun­tries and in Cal­i­for­nia. “Au­tomak­ers will still be on the hook to de­velop and pro­duce th­ese ve­hi­cles and will need economies of scale to make them prof­itable,” said Au­to­trader Se­nior An­a­lyst Michelle Krebs.


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