Trump's Updated Fuel Economy Targets Are Coming This March

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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trump s updated fuel economy targets are coming this march

After what feels like an eternity, the Trump Administration finally feels confident in releasing its alternative to efficiency rules created under former President Barack Obama. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will provide the details on the new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sometime before the end of March.

This will be followed by partisan arguments as to why it’s the best and worst idea in the world.

NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show that the updated rule will be released by March 30th, declining to discuss any specifics. However, the popular assumption is that the new rules will be less burdensome on automakers through 2025. The NHTSA said it wasn’t ruling out altering mandates on 2021 model-year vehicles.

“It will be a proposal that will stimulate dialogue, robust listening to the data and the stakeholders that should inform a decision before we go to a final rule stage,” King told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Despite agreeing to the Obama-era Corporate Average Fuel Economy in 2011, automakers have lobbied Trump and other officials to reexamine the current standards. Carmakers claim that low gasoline prices and lukewarm consumer interest in “green” vehicles make stringent CAFE limits extraneous. While that’s not a particularly green mentality to have, their point is somewhat valid. Gas is relatively cheap and people are choosing to purchase larger, less-efficient vehicles. In fact, the United States’ shopping habits have stalled the countries’ sales-weighted average fuel economy at 25 mpg for over four years.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Jan 17, 2018

    Don't the trump yahoos recall how much gasoline prices have dropped since their all-time peak, late in G.W. Bush's final term, of about $4.11/gal.? The oil companies aren't about to explore, refine, and transport gasoline at a loss. Also, additional oil production drives more natural gas production - which would further damage trump's impossible goal of saving the moribund coal industry. None of that matters to him, however; the only goal is to willy-nilly repeal every single thing Obama ever did, whether good, bad, or indifferent. It's all about trump's revenge for Obama's public roasting of him at that Correspondent's Dinner in 2012.

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    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jan 17, 2018

      @TW5 Evidence? Charts? Nixon's missing tapes? Whatcha got to back up the assertion the oil spike was merely gov't ineptitude?

  • Suto Suto on Jan 17, 2018

    "It’s all about trump’s revenge for Obama’s public roasting of him at that Correspondent’s Dinner in 2012" If that's true, it's pretty bad-ass.

  • Roader Roader on Jan 17, 2018

    "But you and I both know that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices..." President Barack Obama, March 2012 [National average for regular at the time was bumping $4/gal)

  • Jdogma Jdogma on Jan 17, 2018

    30-mile fetch - No, I have not published a paper. My main work is fluid dynamics at the moment. I simply made calculations based on oil consumption and the estimated btu release. Try it yourself. If you need further guidance, hit me up, seriously. As to why such an obvious question is not discussed - what contribution does the caloric heat input from the conversion of hydrocarbons to CO2 in combustion processes have on heating our atmosphere?, I have no answer. As far as human causality in heating the atmosphere, there has to be some because we have 8 billion people and only 196 million square miles of total surface (including ocean). That means ~ 40 people/sq mile or about 1000 x 1000 ft per person. The weight of air distributed equally would be 14.7 lb x the number of square inches on that plot. I suggest that the real issue we face is overpopulation. Strange that the same people that want tax CO2 ignore the population issue. Suggests to me that it's all about money.

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    • 30-mile fetch 30-mile fetch on Jan 17, 2018

      jdog (may I call you jdog? It has a ring to it), I appreciate your honest and level response. I may squawk about the tactics of anthropogenic climate change skeptics (particularly those who, unlike you, have no interest in the scientific method and attack it reflexively out of fear of the policy implications), but I have no vested interest in the dire predictions being true. I'd rather they not be, and I'd rather not feel the hypocrite for driving my gas pig 4Runner into the backcountry. Because I'm certainly not going to stop doing that. I enjoy your back-of-the-envelope calculation as a thought experiment--that sort of exercise is a great way of developing hypotheses and research questions. I have no idea if it's correct or why it hasn't been explored in the literature. But this isn't my arena either. As for the money, it is certainly true that researchers have the real pressure to publish and lassoing onto the hot topic of the day, if only tangentially at best, is an appealing way of increasing your odds of funding. I don't like the direction it can inadvertently steer otherwise solid research in some cases. The flipside to this is the incentive deep-pocketed corporations in the energy industries have in funding their own more favorable research. They have far more funding power than the NSF, and the tobacco and pharmaceutical opioid industries have demonstrated pretty effectively what that can do. In any case, I'd much rather see this debate hashed out over critical analysis of the primary literature, but instead we have people with no background or understanding of the field citing editiorials, cartoons, and the current temperature of the Eastern Seaboard as definitive proof of their position when they should just be saying "look, I don't understand the science but I don't care--it's not worth giving up my car". I much prefer your approach because you are taking an empirical stab at it. And I agree about overpopulation. In a lot of ways. But it apparently drives our economy. I'd much rather have been born a century ago, but then there was pertussis and polio and the Kaiser.