EPA Readies Rollback of Fuel Efficiency Regulations
Rumors are flooding in that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will sign a declaration upending the Obama-era fuel economy regulations any day now. New details have emerged claiming Pruitt plans to visit a Chevrolet dealership in Virginia to publicly condemn the existing 2025 targets as unrealistic. Reportedly scheduled for next Tuesday, the EPA head will be accompanied by groups representing both automakers and car dealers.
California is going to be furious.
According to Reuters, administration officials and several automotive representatives have verified the event as legitimate. However, they noted that the specific revisions to the existing fuel economy standards and emissions limits have yet to be decided. A rollback is guaranteed but nobody seems to have decided by how much.
The EPA mentioned a detailed proposal for the changes could arrive in late May or June, while the Transportation Department is pushing for a tighter timeline. Regardless, an agency spokesperson said Pruitt will autograph something that will open the rules for alteration on April 1st.
Existing rules seek an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, something automakers initially agreed to but later expressed concerns over once Donald Trump took office in 2017. Meanwhile, sales-weighted data has shown no meaningful improvement in U.S. average economy for several years. While the onus of that rests with consumers more than it does manufacturers, it pokes holes in the argument that higher regulatory standards will have a positive environmental impact.
That said, softer targets are unlikely to be any different. But the practical increase of fuel efficiency may have had more to do with the economy than President Obama’s regulatory mandates. Signed into law in 2011, the existing fuel rules came at a time when gas prices were higher and the average family income was lower.
Leaving corporate MPG targets at the mercy of the market could be risky, and not just because America could find itself unprepared for a sudden spike in oil prices. California and several other states have said they will adhere to Obama-era rules if national standards are lowered. If the rollback occurs, which is practically a guarantee, the Golden State is likely to take legal action against the federal government.
Pruitt weighed in on California’s fueling stance earlier this month. “California is not the arbiter of these issues,” he said, “[The state] shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.”
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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