How new fuel standards will impact California vehicles

Cristina Cross
August 3, 2018

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Auto manufacturers now are mandated to incrementally reach an average fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon across their passenger vehicle and light truck fleets by 2025, under guidelines put in place in 2012 under President Barack Obama, The Trump administration proposes freezing the increase at 37 miles per gallon in 2020, and keeping that until at least 2025.

"The administration's proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump", said a joint statement from attorneys general from the states, including New York, Virginia and North Carolina. For example, Obama's EPA argued that a dual-clutch transmission would soon be widely adopted as a cost-effective way to get more miles per gallon.

The Trump administration has moved to weaken U.S. vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.

Fortunately, the reasons for changing them are so specious that they probably will never survive a court challenge.

California and 16 other states sued in the administration over the fuel efficiency standards in May, anticipating the new regulation.

Trump in March 2017 announced his administration would be reopening a review of the Obama automobile rules that he and some automakers said was unfairly cut short by Obama's EPA.

The states that have adopted California's emission rules together make up about one third of the US auto market.

Schwarzenegger's successor as governor, Jerry Brown, called the Trump administration proposals 'an assault on the health of Americans everywhere'.

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That means the system might soon outsell the PlayStation 3, which racked up 83 million sales in over a decade on shelves. A little under five years ago gaming giant SONY (TYO:6758) (NYSE:SNE) released its blockbuster console the Sony PS4.

Environmental groups in ME, which is among the states that adopted California's tougher emissions requirements for new cars, and around the country quickly denounced the widely anticipated move. It would also worsen air quality problems in Southern California and other areas where officials are already struggling to clean smog and ease rates of asthma and other illnesses.

The proposal still needs to go through a public comment period before it can go into effect.

"EPA is proposing to withdraw the waiver granted to California in 2013 for the GHG [Greenhouse Gas] and ZEV [Zero Emissions Vehicles] requirements of its Advanced Clean Cars program", the proposal says.

Vehicles are the single largest cause of emissions in the USA that cause global warming, recently surpassing the electricity sector. But as consumers spend more on gas, the costs would start to balloon.

The greatest increase in greenhouse gas emissions would happen in the 2030s because electric cars will grow significantly by the 2040s, the Energy Innovation analysis found. The firm projects the policy would cost the US economy $457 billion and cause 13,000 deaths by 2050, as air quality suffers.

What were the Obama administration guidelines?

He added, "Make no mistake, the Sierra Club and the American people will continue fighting to protect the clean vehicle standards and the health of our communities". This, Chao and Wheeler argued, "strikes the appropriate regulatory balance between vehicle improvements, environmental benefits and safety". 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. "These arguments are not new". "In short, the agencies propose to maintain one national standard - a standard that is set exclusively by the Federal government".

At a May meeting in the White House, auto firms appealed to Trump to tap the brakes on the administration's aggressive rollback plan. "But if not, I'd remind them that California has won this battle before".

Those negotiations have gone nowhere. "The administration is using a parade of horrors to justify an extreme rollback", said the Safe Climate Campaign.

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