President Donald Trump is poised to order changes at the Environmental Protection Agency once a new administrator is confirmed, sources at the regulator claim.
In a meeting Tuesday, EPA employees were told to expect two to five executive orders, Reuters reports. While the news will likely cause anxiety among the nation’s environmentalists, U.S. automakers are likely crossing their fingers for a different reason.
The meeting in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel saw employees told of the upcoming orders by a senior official who had spoken with members of the Trump administration. No details were provided.
“It was just a heads-up to expect some executive orders, that’s it,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Given Trump’s fixation on the American auto industry, as well as extensive lobbying from automakers and industry groups, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that one of those orders could have something to do with corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rules.
A midterm review of those standards is still ongoing, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet to rule on whether the lofty fuel economy targets set by the Obama administration should stay in place. The EPA, however, gave the existing plan a thumb’s up shortly before Trump took office.
Industry groups cried foul over the EPA’s sudden approval, calling it a political move. The agency had another year to weight in on the targets. For the Detroit Three automakers, achieving the 54.5 mile-per-gallon average by the target year of 2025 means extra expense and higher sticker prices on vehicles.
“What we’re really trying to do is just restore the [midterm review process], and because the process was truncated, we don’t really know what the standards should be,” Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told Bloomberg last week.
Bergquist made the statement after the CEOs of 18 automakers, including the Detroit Three, sent a letter to Trump asking for a reset of the EPA review term.
“As recently as late last fall, EPA assured us that the MTR would not result in a final determination before the next administration came into office,” the executives wrote in the February 10th letter.
Trump’s EPA pick, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, will reportedly face a Senate confirmation vote on Friday.
[Image: General Motors]