Shared from the 3/8/2017 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

Fuel standards to be reversed

Obama administration set requirement for new vehicles to average 36 miles per gallon.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is moving to roll back federal fuel-economy requirements that would have forced automakers to increase significantly the efficiency of new cars and trucks, a key part of former President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency is close to an announcement reversing a decision made in the waning days of the Obama administration to lock in strict gas mileage requirements for cars and light trucks through 2025.

Automakers asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discard a Jan. 13 decision that requires the fleet of new cars to average a real-world figure of 36 miles per gallon.

The automakers said the Obama rules could add thousands of dollars to the price of new cars and cost more than a million jobs.

Lawmakers, industry groups, and environmentalists say the administration has signaled it plans to take this step. An announcement could come as early as this week, although changes in the standards could take years to fully implement.

A decision to review the Obama rule sets up a potential legal battle with California and other states that have adopted tough tailpipe standards for drivers. California has received a waiver allowing the state to enforce its standards, which have also been adopted by 12 other states.

The White House and EPA declined to comment.

“Attacking the California waiver is a recipe for chaos,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), who has pushed for higher fuel standards. California and other states that have adopted its standard will almost certainly file a legal challenge if pushed by the EPA, Markey and other lawmakers said.

“The auto companies don’t want 50 state standards,” he said.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) called her state “a model for the country” on environmental standards and said she strongly opposes any attempt to “roll back the progress we’ve made. That’s counterproductive and could absolutely be harmful to the health and well-being of the residents of our state and the people of our nation.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen major car manufacturers, declined to comment.

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