Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Trump administration proposes mileage rollback

Trump administration proposes mileage rollback

The proposed changes would freeze fuel economy and emissions standards at 2020 levels and change how emissions are regulated. However, beginning in MY 2021, "air conditioning refrigerant leakage, nitrous oxide and methane emissions are no longer included with the tailpipe Carbon dioxide for compliance with tailpipe Carbon dioxide standards". In addition, it wants to do away with California's exemption to set its own standards.

As part of the SAFE rule package, the federal government is also seeking to revoke California's ability to set its own greenhouse gas emissions targets for vehicles, as well as the state's zero emissions vehicles mandate.

"For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere", he said. The result, opponents say, will be dirtier air and more pollution-related illness and death. The Golden State's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown was a bit more emphatic in his response, saying that his state "will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible".

Regardless, the rollback of stringent regulations comes as the cost of new vehicles is on the rise. Costly fuel-economy equipment requirements also lead to fewer new vehicle sales and thus the retention of older, less safe, and higher-polluting vehicles via the "clunker effect".

Many top California officials, however, blasted the plan.

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$176 billion in societal net benefits. Conversely, impacts to fuel consumption, and therefore the global climate, are anticipated to be minimal under the SAFE Vehicle Rule potentially increased by about half a million barrels per day. It also relies on weird assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety.

Although some might say lowering fuel-economy standards would cause environmental harm, the truth is it would likely reduce harm. Stay tuned for further comment.

Perhaps most troubling for state officials, the proposed rules take aim at California's longstanding autonomy in protecting its air quality and public health.

Conservatives hold that the Trump administration's rule change is for the best. We are researchers, not pundits, and so we hesitate to speculate.

As compared to the 2012 standards set forth by the Obama administration, the agencies claim their joint proposal will "prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries". California, along with dozens of other states, sued the administration in May, challenging the administration's right to revisit the existing rules. Transportation accounts for almost 40 percent of the state's harmful air pollution, and existing state rules directly reduce tailpipe emissions, becoming more stringent over time.

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The Transportation Department says the proposal would shrink regulatory costs for automakers by $319 billion through 2029, reducing by more than $60 billion what General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV each would have been expected to spend to comply with the Obama-era rules. They are also about twice the costs estimated by EPA ($894) and NHTSA ($1,245) in their 2016 Technical Assessment Report.

"Attempting to solve climate change, even in part, through the ... waiver provision is fundamentally different from that section's original objective of addressing smog-related air quality problems", the administration argued in the justification for its proposed rule. Other states, including Vermont, signed on.

Democrats have called for the auto sector and states like California to reach a compromise on stricter fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

"A$3 vanced technologies, such as EVs, can provide key flexibilities to automakers in a way that maintains a single national program for fuel economy and GHG standards", they wrote.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a main industry group, said Thursday that the Trump proposal means it's time for negotiations to begin.

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Longstanding federal legislation has allowed California to set its own mileage standards given the choking smog that still sometimes blankets Los Angeles and other central and Southern California valley cities.

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