Trump team wants to roll back Obama-era mileage standards

Traffic flows near the interchanges that link I-495 and I-270

Traffic flows near the interchanges that link I-495 and I-270

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The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives - the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per auto, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say.

Now, the Trump administration is proposing to flatline fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emission standards from 2021 to 2026, locking models produced during those years to standards pegged to 2020.

The administration's rule aims to preempt California's Clean Air Act (CAA) waiver and argues that it should be pulled entirely.

'If you want to clean up your air, they throw federalism right out the window.

Nearly immediately after the Trump administration formally released its plan to gut the nation's fuel efficiency standards, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra denounced the proposal as a "brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's clean vehicle standards", and vowed to continue challenging Trump's deregulatory agenda in court.

Schwarzenegger's successor as governor, Jerry Brown, called the Trump administration proposals 'an assault on the health of Americans everywhere'.

"The earth is not flat and climate change is real", Becerra said. It would also worsen air quality problems in Southern California and other areas where officials are already struggling to clean smog and ease rates of asthma and other illnesses.

The administration must gather feedback on the proposal before it is finalized, a process that could take months and that could be further delayed by lawsuits.

He said in a statement that the organization would challenge the administration's action "in the court of public opinion and the court of law".

The administration's proposal would freeze USA mileage standards at 2020 levels, when the new vehicle fleet will be required to hit an average of 30 miles per gallon in real-world driving.

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"Automakers support continued improvements in fuel economy and flexibilities that incentivize advanced technologies while balancing priorities like affordability, safety, jobs, and the environment", Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement.

The Trump administration also said on Thursday that it will propose to rescind California's unique authority to set its own fuel economy standards and that the EPA and DOT hope to set one national gas mileage and emissions standard for the entire nation.

"It's a proposal that attacks the states' right to protect people from unsafe pollution, one that no one -- not the American public, not the states, not even most automakers -- really wants, and one that's being presented to the public under the false and easily discredited guise of improving public safety", the statement continued.

Vehicles are the single largest cause of emissions in the US that cause global warming, recently surpassing the electricity sector. Critics said it would accelerate climate change and increase fuel prices. The impact of freezing those targets for six years, as the administration favors, would be enormous. The agencies say this accelerated fleet turnover will reduce the cost of accidents and avoid 12,700 traffic deaths in vehicles built through 2029.

Those assertions are refuted by thousands of pages of data the Obama administration used in developing the regulation. The 2020 standard would be around 32 miles per gallon.

Under the Trump's administration's new proposal, cars and light-trucks would only have to average 37 MPG by 2026.

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming. "The data and science does not back up what they are trying to do, which is to eviscerate these California standards".

Those negotiations have gone nowhere.

©2018 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Today's cars contain so many computers and must be manufactured to produce so much horsepower out of as little motor as possible that they have become nothing more than rolling computers on the brink of failure. And when they fail they are prohibitively expensive to fix and often require someone akin to a rocket scientist to troubleshoot.

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