By on October 23, 2019

It’s certainly taking this fuel economy rollback proposal we’ve heard so much about a long time to evolve into its final form. Unfortunately, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler has indicated more changes could be needed before a final draft can be released. However, in a bit of a twist, he’s now claiming the proposal will actually be more rigorous than preexisting mandates. Kind of.

“In some of the out years, we’re actually more restrictive on CO2 emissions than the Obama proposal was,” Wheeler told a crowd at the Detroit Economic Club this week. 

While most believe the final draft won’t be far from the original draft that suggests freezing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels through 2026, the EPA has indicated changes will be made. No specifics were given, though Wheeler expressed a desire to close “loopholes” he believed allowed vehicle-based pollution to slip through the cracks. He was also critical of electric vehicle subsidies, expressing concern that automakers would put most of their focus on pricer EVs (with better margins) or simply raise the price of popular internal-combustion models to offset development costs.

Reuters has more:

On a separate point, Wheeler said the EPA is prepared to enact new regulations to curtail smog, and plans to set new standards next year for nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks.

The Trump administration is embroiled in a legal battle over automotive tailpipe emissions with the State of California and other states that want to keep Obama administration standards, which call for pushing the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles to 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026.

The Trump administration’s earlier proposal called for freezing the average vehicle fuel efficiency target at 37 mpg. Wheeler said he is hopeful California regulators will have a different view when they see the administration’s final proposal.

Only three automakers complied with U.S. fuel efficiency standards in 2017, Wheeler noted, saying the Obama rules “are not based on reality.”

Will California embrace the revamped draft? We sincerely doubt it. Despite the current administration making efforts to make the proposal more eco-friendly and financially responsible, it will still seek to end California’s ability to self-regulate vehicle CO2 emissions. That’ll be a nonstarter on the West Coast.

[Image: Albert H. Teich/Shutterstock]

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27 Comments on “EPA Chief Hints Vehicle Emission Rules Could Tighten Under Trump – With a Twist...”

  • avatar

    “and plans to set new standards next year for nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks.”

    There is already a push for another round past tier IV final?

    • 0 avatar

      Strictly speaking, “Tier 4 final” is only for off-road engines (tractors, construction equipment, etc.), though the technology to achieve it is comparable to what US heavy-duty diesel on-highway vehicles have needed since 2010. I’m a little skeptical that there’s much room to improve on NOx for on-highway; in off-highway the next step is the EU’s “Stage V” which has the same NOx as US Tier 4 final / EU Stage IV but regulates particulates in a way that effectively mandates a particle filter.

    • 0 avatar

      I have heard from two separate industry sources that Tier-4 raised prices on diesel-powered machinery by 7% across the board regardless of size. In addition to higher initial cost, Tier-4 machines generally delivered higher operating and maintenance costs and increased fuel consumption. Only a handful of European diesel manufacturers got lucky and didn’t have the fuel consumption increase.

      Most owners/end users feel that Tier-4 was a bridge too far. The prices of good, used pre-Tier-4 machinery reflect the sentiment.

  • avatar

    The whole C02 scare is a FRAUD.

    Government regulations on emissions do nothing but raise the cost of vehicles, making having a car more expensive. Maybe that is the point. Globalist scum wants everyone in poverty.

    As to N0x, some emission controls make sense. N0x regulations do make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      Says you.

      • 0 avatar

        He is correct though, so there is that.

        • 0 avatar

          He is right, you say? Based on exactly what part and experience of your illustrious career so far? All I ever read from you is point-blank statements. About as autocratic an approach as can be imagined, so I rebel at your nonsense.

      • 0 avatar

        He’s right, the UN wants to raise a trillion dollars by taxing the west on carbon to develop 3rd world countries. This has nothing to do with the environment. Just another lefty issue and you are racist or a conspiracy theorist if you disagree with them. (even though what I just said is on the UN website from 2012)

        • 0 avatar

          Links would be helpful. So would a 3 kiloton blast at 760 United Nations Plaza
          Manhattan, New York City, New York 10017, I mean if you’ve got one to spare.

        • 0 avatar

          Developing the third world is just another layer of the PR campaign, the .1% behind this as behind everything else are as disinterested in third worlders as they are in soda bubbles. What they are interested in are the trillions of dollars of crony capitalism that they’ll skim off along the way.

          Battery factories to nowhere, here we come.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, you know its a good thing CAFE stands for Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency then, no?

      None of that scary “emissions” boogaboo.


      On a serious note, i remember when Bush Jr. was prez and we were touting fuel efficiency as a way to get out from under the specter of being dependent on foreign oil. And if I’m not wrong, that hasn’t changed. We’re all still on the “fuck the middle east, we shouldn’t be led around the nose by the Saudis”, right?

  • avatar

    I trust the Trump administration to do the right thing in this case rather than the wacko green-weenie agenda of the last administration.

    SOME emission rules make sense, this from a guy who grew up in the Los Angeles area before smog became uncool.

    But I’m also hoping for more and bigger V8 engines in the range of 350ci/5.7L and higher, ‘cause there ain’t no replacement for displacement.

  • avatar

    Having an Economic Club in Detroit is like having a…

    nah – too easy.

  • avatar

    I’m all in favor of reasonable regulations on tailpipe emissions, but not on the technology to accomplish it. I’m not in favor of fuel economy mandates at all – let the buyers decide. Everything else is politics with ulterior motives.

  • avatar

    I really hope the EPA wakes the hell up and addresses particulates emissions from GDI engines.

  • avatar

    This makes no sense, pollution is a core Republican value

  • avatar

    “He was also critical of electric vehicle subsidies, expressing concern that automakers would put most of their focus on pricer EVs (with better margins) or simply raise the price of popular internal-combustion models to offset development costs.”


    Freezing the standards at 2020 makes sense to protect consumers. After 2020 Tg costs skyrocket tearing most of the margin out of conventional vehicles forcing automakers into electrification in order to gain credit. However, the cost of electrification isn’t yet at a point where the costs can be fully absorbed by the consumer.

    Pie in the sky targets are great on paper, but rules that have such great effect need to be pragmatic.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @highdesertcat–“But I’m also hoping for more and bigger V8 engines in the range of 350ci/5.7L and higher, ‘cause there ain’t no replacement for displacement.”

    For now the standards are safe but after the Trump presidency who knows what will happen. My guess is standards will get more stringent and regulators will eventually regulate ICE vehicles out of existence. My belief is the car manufacturers are preparing themselves for a future with no ICE vehicles out of necessity. Before ICE goes away more manufacturers will transition away from V8s and offer more turbo V6s and I4s to game the system in order to comply. Additionally the amount of ethanol will increase in gasoline as away to subsidize farmers and the agribusiness to gain political support. This is not something that I look forward to especially since it increases costs and damages vehicles and outdoor power equipment.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Before ICE goes away more manufacturers will transition away from V8s and offer more turbo V6s and I4s to game the system in order to comply.”


      Look at it this way. A turbo direct injection downsized six cylinder engine can cost anywhere from 50 to 100%(!) more to build than it’s NA V8 counterpart in the effort to put an average 10% BSFC gain on paper. However, when the upcoming CAFE/GHG regulatory credits are input, they nearly make up the entire difference in cost.

      That’s how expensive the regulations are.

      • 0 avatar

        danio3834, you’re right. And I’m not a fan of these high-revving, heavy-breathing, forced-air, twin-turbo’d, nervous-nellie little squirrel engines.

        A few weeks ago, my friend test-drove a 4-dr 2019 Silverado with that 2.7L Turbo’d four-banger, on I-10, me as a passenger, sales guy in the back.

        First there was turbo-lag, can’t get away from that.

        And then there was turbo-lag changing lanes and accelerating. White knuckles when passing on a two-lane.

        Finally, there was lethargic cruising in non-turbo-mode on flat terrain. Slight elevations do cause automatic downshifting, often!

        And this was all done with an empty bed, no trailer, no load. Maybe it would do better under load. My guess is…..not.

        Others who bought the F150 2.7L-Turbo have told me their experience is the same, but for them, the excellent gas-mileage is the benefit because they travel huge distances traveling on trips, often staying away from home weeks at a time.

        OTOH, they also lament not having chosen Ford’s 3.5L-Turbo. But that was because of the HUGE price difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeff S, to me it just seems unrealistic to plan for a future without ICE vehicles, but if it turns out that way, I won’t be around to see it in my lifetime.

      In the mean time, I’d like to party like it’s 1999, with a husky V8 under the hood of my truck – the bigger, the better.

      So my hope is that during President Trump’s tenure we won’t see radical mandates and restrictions being placed on the US auto industry. I hope President Trump remains an agnostic of climate change and the green new deal.

      Once President Trump has left office and a ‘crat wins the White House, we can look forward to the far-left liberal progressive green-weenie eco-warrior agenda again.

      So NOW is the time to buy that HellCat, or whatever vehicle a man needs to put a smile on his face.

      When I buy my next truck, let me assure the readership that it will have the biggest engine in it I can get. Ditto with my wife’s SUV. AT this point, another Tundra and Sequoia. But who knows?

      Until then, we travel, and it’s carriage service and limousines, with an occasional rental here and there.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Not just smaller turbo engines but lighter more expensive materials like carbon fiber will be used to get the weight down. Also more hybrid systems and use of shutters in grills to control the flow of air. Not a lot of low hanging fruit left to gain more efficiencies and what is left will cost more.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @highdesertcat–Agree. It’s not a matter of the auto manufacturers wanting to make the smaller turbo engines and wanting to eventually be all EV it is that they are planning for more regulations which is the worse case scenario. I believe we still have a few more years before we see the total demise of V8s and even more years before the elimination of ICE which by then I will either be dead or too old to drive or even care.
    Agree if you really want that Hell Cat buy it soon because its days are limited.

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