By on January 10, 2019

President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, setting him up to permanently fill a position he’s already occupied since July.

Trump praised Wheeler in November his “fantastic job” as acting administrator of the EPA following the July 2018 resignation of the agency’s former scandal-ridden head, Scott Pruitt. This month, the president submitted Wheeler’s formal nomination to the Senate. There’s still a ways to go before the ex-lobbyist’s confirmation, though, as the Senate will no doubt be critical of his relatively recent ties to the coal industry. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2018

The new acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, has jackknifed former EPA head Scott Pruitt’s decision to quit enforcing the strict sales limits imposed on glider trucks.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, they’re basically new heavy commercial trucks that use old powertrains. Advocates argue that using refurbished engines and transmissions save business owners loads of cash and promote recycling, since the internals would likely end up in a scrapyard. However, many complain that glider trucks simply exist to circumvent emissions regulations.

During President Obama’s tenure, the EPA said that if gliders were allowed through 2025, they would make up a scant five percent of the freight vehicles on the road — but would account for one third of all nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions from the heavy truck fleet. A crackdown was inevitable. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who spearheaded the Trump administration’s initiative to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards for light vehicles, has resigned. Even after assuming the position, Pruitt remained a tough sell as head of the EPA. His stance on climate change was uncharacteristic of any modern-day environmentalist and he seemed utterly bent on corporate deregulation to bolster profits and stimulate the economy.

Then came a flurry of scandals stemming from frivolous spending habits, improper use of authority, and possible business ties that would inhibit his ability to act in an unbiased manner. Numerous federal investigations were launched into these matters.

While a number of the impropriety claims came from political opponents actively hunting for gaps in his armor, let’s face it, Pruitt hasn’t been making things particularly difficult for them.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2018

fuel gauge vintage

Despite the growing animosity, both California and the Trump administration are still willing to discuss the country’s changing emission regulations. The state is currently heading a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in overturning the previous administration’s decision to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

While the proposals issued by the current administration will eventually see those targets rolled back, a final decision has not been made. The White House claims it wants to maintain an open dialogue with the Golden State, hoping to reach an agreeable solution, but the California Air Resources Board has argued it doesn’t seem to be acting on those assertions. Meanwhile, EPA head Scott Pruitt maintains that the state will not dictate federal fueling rules as automakers beg the government to do everything in its power to ensure a singular national mandate.

It’s an ugly situation, which makes news of a new round of meetings all the more surprising.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2018

fuel gauge vintage

The Trump administration has enacted phase two of its plan to revise Obama-era rules designed to cut pollution from vehicle emissions. In a proposal sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to rescind the California waiver that separates it from the federal standards the state uses to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

Since allowing California to set its own emission standards would effective split the country’s auto market, the EPA has been clear that its ideal solution would be to cut a deal with the Golden State. Agency head Scott Pruitt previously said California “shouldn’t and can’t dictate [fueling regulations] to the rest of the country,” but acted in a manner that suggested a compromised could be reached.

This was followed by a lawsuit filed by 17 U.S. states, along with the California governor’s office, California attorney general, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), alleging that the EPA had “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in its decision to roll back the previous administration’s decision. While the odds are good that the Trump administration wasn’t ever interested in bending to California’s more stringent pollution policies, this was likely the point of no return — squashing any hope for meaningful negotiations. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2018

Several science advisers for the Environmental Protection Agency claim the agency has ignored its own research in order to rationalize the push to relax corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets.

A group within the Science Advisory Board has recommended reviewing the EPA’s justifications for the intended rollbacks, including the agency’s conclusion that Obama-era auto efficiency requirements must be changed because they are too stringent. It’s hoping to take the agency to task and force it to show evidence that upholds is proposal.

While EPA head Scott Pruitt sides with the President and automotive industry by indicating the current standards are too strict, very little scientific research has been cited to support the claim. In fact, the revision seems to hinge mainly on the belief that automakers might not be able to adhere to the standards approved by the Obama administration in its final days. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high,” Pruitt said in April.  (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2018

America’s gas war is heating after 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to redefine U.S. vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency rules through 2025.

In April, EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the existing standards for model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles should be revised. The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, alleges the EPA acted unpredictably, failed to follow its own regulations, and was in direct violation of the Clean Air Act. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claimed the “Trump administration conducted a phony study” to justify altering emission rules to appease automakers and the oil industry.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui of California and Paul Tonko of New York are demanding the EPA hand over all documents related to the study that resulted in the proposed changes to fuel economy standards.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt spent the majority of his Thursday being raked over the coals by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee before a second (even uglier) exchange with the House Appropriations subcommittee. The majority of the time was spent addressing concerns surrounding Pruitt’s expenditures — things like unnecessary first-class travel, a $43,000 soundproof phone booth, and his 24-hour security team. There were also discussions about alleged death threats against Pruitt and EPA staff, his overall conduct, and even a little bit on environmental policy.

Those discussions, however, saw some subcommittee members accuse Pruitt of championing the profits of oil companies and automakers over the wellbeing of the planet. The EPA head spent the duration of Thursday defending his actions, including planned regulatory rollbacks on fuel economy. He also supported the automotive industry’s proposal to abolish 87 octane and replace it with 95.

As ugly as the day was for Pruitt, Republicans occasionally hopped on the mic to gently support him. Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said, “I think the greatest sin you’ve done is, you’ve actually done what President Trump ran on.” (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2018

Now that the Environmental Protection Agency has officially confirmed its intent to roll back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, the opposition has kicked things into high gear, mobilizing for the coming battle.

In one corner you have the White House and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seeking lowered emission mandates. They claim the Obama administration created unfeasible fueling regulations, noting that the public regularly opts for less-efficient trucks and SUVs and largely ignores the purchase of electric vehicles. In the other corner you have a handful of Senate Democrats, environmental groups, and a bunch of blue states led by California lawmakers. They all say the preexisting rules are not only feasible, but essential for the good of the nation.

If you’re wondering which side of the highly partisan issue is correct, we’d argue it has almost everything to do with your point of view. Both sides can make a fairly strong case, and will do just that as the battle heats up. Fortunately, this may not end up being a legitimate civil war — if the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is to be believed.  (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

It looks as if the United States will find out if softened fuel economy targets will transform the domestic market into a haven for automobiles with exquisite powertrains or an antiquated dinosaur with garbage cars making use of old, pollution-friendly tech.

As predicted, the Environmental Protection Agency officially announced its intent to roll back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards this week. On Monday, EPA head Scott Pruitt indicated his agency would begin the formal regulatory process with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to lower the existing MPG rules.

For the most part, Pruitt avoided diving deep into the NHTSA’s past claims of larger vehicles being safer and the manufacturing pitfalls associated with rushing cutting-edge technology to market — two issues we expected to be addressed. Instead, he left the announcement rather basic by stating the Obama-era rules were “not appropriate and should be revised.” The cornerstone of the EPA’s argument is that Americans simply aren’t buying more efficient automobiles, despite their current availability, and automakers have grown concerned with meeting CAFE standards after 2022.

“The Obama administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.” (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2018

fuel gauge

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.  (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2018

fuel gauge

The Trump administration’s chief environmental regulator claims the Environmental Protection Agency will not pursue stricter fuel economy mandates after 2025. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also said California won’t call the shots for the rest of the country just because it can set its own rules on emissions.

“California is not the arbiter of these issues,” he said. Currently, California and 16 other states have pledged to maintain Obama-era emission when federal regulators decide to roll them back “but that shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be,” according to Pruitt.

Stick that in your tailpipe, one-third of America.  (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

gasoline fight from zoolander

A handful of states have banded together to sue the Trump Administration for delaying financial penalties associated with automakers’ inability to meet minimum fuel economy standards. As part of the president’s deregulation proposals, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has placed Obama-era mandates on review as regulators debate whether to grant automakers significant reductions in fuel economy requirements.

However, those changes have yet to arrive, meaning the industry is still under pre-existing standards — and some states want automakers held accountable. California, New York, Vermont, Maryland, and Pennsylvania want the current administration to introduce its proposed quotas or enforce the already established 2016 limits.  (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2017

Donald Trump, public domain

President Donald Trump has said he’ll be providing his thoughts on the Paris climate deal in the coming days, but media outlets are already suggesting his take on the issue will be to leave it. Sources are claiming the president’s mind is made up and, to the surprise of no one, odds are good he will withdraw the U.S. from the deal.

Trump has already made it his mission to overturn as many Obama-related policies as possible and seems unconcerned with environmental issues that might stand in the way of potential manufacturing opportunities. Since taking office, Trump has been pushing regulators to rethink the United States’ auto emission guidelines, undoing one of the previous administration’s final acts in office.

Pulling out of the Paris accord would fulfill a campaign promise and negate the need for the U.S. to adhere to rigid emission standards — at the expense of further alienating the president from Europe’s leadership.   (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

white house on moving day
The Trump administration’s current plan for the Environmental Protection Agency budget removes nearly all funding for vehicle emissions testing. Proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget would eliminate 99 percent of the agency’s $48 million in funding for vehicle testing, shouldering automakers with increased fees to split the difference.

However, former head of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality Margo Oge is claiming that such a large cut would force the agency into “pretty much shutting down the testing lab” regardless of corporate contributions.  (Read More…)

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