Gas War: Inspector General to Investigate Fuel Rollback

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Following requests from Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) for a formal investigation into whether the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules proposed by the Trump administration violates the Clean Air Act (or some currently undetermined regulatory requirement that might stop it from coming to fruition), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said it will indeed evaluate the emissions rollback.

As the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper’s opposition to the fuel rollback is to be expected. With politicians unwilling to find common ground and engage in good-faith discussions that might result in some amount of compromise in service to the people, opposition tactics have devolved into partisan lawsuits and trying to halt the new rules over technicalities.

Funnily enough, SAFE was already compromised once already to include more stringent regulatory measures designed to appease environmentalists. That move didn’t prove very successful, highlighting the fractured nature of modern politics.

Leadership in some states continue to demand retention of the Obama-era rules (despite that administration’s own EPA saying they would be unmanageable). More than a few have gone so far as to suggest they’ll abide by stricter Californian regulations, regardless of what happens with the rollback — the political equivalent of covering your ears and saying “I can’t year you, la la la la.”

But the Trump administration isn’t going into this without a few blemishes of its own. Some have refuted claims that the rollback would encourage cheaper automobiles by discouraging the industry from pushing electric vehicles, citing the administration’s own cost-of-ownership analysis and taking a broader scope of view. Still, that presumes heaps of people default into buying EVs — which probably won’t happen until the cars become cheaper to buy, as well as superior (or at least equal) to gas-powered autos in all respects. We already harped on this when assessing Joe Biden’s surprise endorsement of Cash for Clunkers 2.o.

Then there’s the EPA, which has been blasted in the media after staffers claimed the science behind some of the rollback decisions were junk. This outlet certainly found some of the rationale behind the current administration’s claim that staying with the higher efficiency standard would result in less-safe automobiles to be mildly suspect. But any valid concerns have been undermined by political infighting within the organization itself and news outlets writing articles calling the fossil fuel industry mass murderers. Like nearly every issue raised since 2016, the rollback has been politicized to a point where it’s nearing self-parody.

Meanwhile, nobody seems capable of determining how much trash was actually shoveled around in service of those politics at the EPA. Assuming the Inspector General can set any biases aside to determine what aspects of the proposal are legitimate and clear up any concerns about bunk data, we’re eager to see the watchdog enter into the fray.

[Image: Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock]

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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3 of 9 comments
  • Brn Brn on Jul 30, 2020

    What rollback? Not moving forward is not the same as rolling back.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jul 30, 2020

      Logic will get you nowhere in Washington DC. Fuel economy is not emissions. Sure, the number of gallons burned has an effect on total emissions, but emissions are measured at the individual tailpipe. Does the guvmint even HAVE the power to regulate fuel economy? If it does, it can regulate how many miles we drive too. The politicians don't want to touch that one, so they bedevil automakers on fuel economy. Given that we now have several governors ruling by executive order, unencumbered by their legislatures, telling citizens to stay home, wear masks, shutting down restaurants, gyms, barber shops, and telling us how many people can attend church, can limiting how many miles we drive be far behind?

  • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer MiataReallyIsTheAnswer on Jul 30, 2020

    ROFL, ToolGuy!

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three