EPA Chief Hints Vehicle Emission Rules Could Tighten Under Trump - With a Twist

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
epa chief hints vehicle emission rules could tighten under trump with a twist

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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 24, 2019

    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.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 24, 2019

    @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.

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.
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