With a Week to Go in Obama Administration, EPA Sets 2025 Fuel Economy Targets in Stone

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has decided to maintain current emissions and fuel economy standards through 2025, cementing a central pillar of the Obama administration’s green legacy.

Many automakers have been critical of Obama’s rather strict climate policies and were hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump might roll back some of the more stringent regulations. Of the policies, none is more controversial than the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandate, which began a midterm review earlier this year.

While the EPA’s ultimate determination wasn’t due until April of 2018, choosing not to alter 2025 vehicle emission and CAFE rules effectively locks in the standard before Trump can take office.

McCarthy explained that her decision, which institutes a legal means to maintain the fuel efficiency rules, rests entirely on the facts.

“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input,” said McCarthy in her official statement.

“At every step in the process the analysis has shown that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks remain affordable and effective through 2025, and will save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump while protecting our health and the environment.”

The agency believes that the standards, which requires an average fleet-wide light vehicle fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, will result in consumer EPA window stickers surpassing 36 mpg for passenger cars and light-trucks. That’s more than 10 mpg higher than the fleet averages of today. The mandatory improvement in economy is also estimated to diminish U.S. oil consumption by around 2.4 million barrels a day — a 10 percent reduction of America’s total petroleum consumption.

While environmentalist groups are chuffed to hear that the adjudication won’t be undone by the next POTUS, those in the automotive industry are less pleased to see the inflexible standards remain.

“The EPA decision is disappointing,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which had been urging the agency to reconsider. “Our fundamental priority remains striking the right balance to continue fuel economy gains and carbon reduction without compromising consumer affordability and vital auto-sector jobs.”

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Jimf42 Jimf42 on Jan 15, 2017

    The regulations can be reversed through the same process as they were enacted. The new administration at the EPA has to publish the new regulations (or the reversal of the old regs) in the Federal Register, giving a specified time for comments. Once that period is up, they then can make the new regs final, while responding to comments (pound sand, etc).

  • Mtmmo Mtmmo on Jan 16, 2017

    Obama's 2025 EPA fuel economy targets are set in stone just like his Syrian red line. More than 400,000 people have been slaughtered in Syria many of them women and children. Thanks Obama. You won't be missed. Only 4 More Days!!!!

    • VoGo VoGo on Jan 16, 2017

      Let's interject some fact into the politics today. The Obama red line in Syria was specific to chemical weapons. It threatened direct military intervention against the Assad regime if they did not remove all its chemical weapons. Tail between his legs, Assad then exported all chemical weapons from Syria. So it worked. Now, you can fault Obama for not doing more to prevent bloodshed in Syria, especially against civilians. IF there were easy answers here, I'm sure they would have been taken. We should keep in mind that in America, it is Congress that uniquely has the power to declare war. Congress chose instead to sit back and criticize Obama, instead of taking the lead. It will be interesting to see how Trump and Congress handle Syria going forward. I certainly hope they are successful in reducing civilian casualties while advancing American interests and values.

  • Redapple2 Another bad idea from the EVIL gm Vampire.
  • Daniel J Alabama is a right to work state so I'd be interested in how this plays out. If a plant in Alabama unionized, there are many workers who's still oppose joining and can work.
  • ToolGuy This guest was pretty interesting.
  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."