Trump proposes car-mileage rollback; states sue in protest

EPA C02 Standards

The EPA estimates that the new rules would result in a 0.003 degree Celsius difference in the global climate by the year 2100, compared with the Obama-era mandate. California is confident the administration has no legal authority to revoke the waiver it has been granted under the Clean Air Act allowing it to keep the Obama-era rules in place. And it says that compared to the 2012 rules, the new proposal would raise U.S. fuel consumption by half a million barrels per day (that's between two and three percent daily).

If the proposed rule becomes final, it could roil the auto industry as it prepares for new model years and weaken one of the federal government's chief weapons against climate change - regulating emissions from cars and other vehicles. Letting one state make decisions for people in other states makes a bad program even worse, especially since the state is California, which has been pursuing an anti-car agenda for decades. For example, Obama's EPA argued that a dual-clutch transmission would soon be widely adopted as a cost-effective way to get more miles per gallon.

The administration also wants to limit states' rights to make their own standards, to which California and several other states have already said, We'll see you in court.

California and NY are among the states signing on to a statement Thursday pledging legal action against the Trump administration's action on fuel efficiency.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Twitter that "The #Trump Administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's #CleanCarStandards".

The administration also projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind spot warning. The government also said the proposal will save consumers $2,340 (£1,796 / €2,017) since automakers won't have to increase prices to offset the costs of building more efficient vehicles.

More than a dozen states follow California's standards, amounting to about 40 percent of the country's new-vehicle market.

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The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation said the increase in emission standards for cars built from 2021 to 2026 would hurt vehicle sales and improve safety of motorists across the country. That means a 43.7 mpg for passenger cars and 31.3 mpg for light trucks. Assuming, strictly for illustration purposes, a gasoline price of three dollars per gallon, that would result in an increased annual fuel expenditure of about $318.

Older cars are less fuel efficient and less safe.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in a press release on Thursday. The administration said the proposed plan will prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries.

The Trump's administration's fatality estimate isn't novel to observers of the auto industry.

In the years before California's extremely strict clean air rules, there were smog-filled skies that were fairly common.

And while automakers initially asked the Trump administration to loosen fuel economy requirements, this impending legal battle is one they would rather avoid.

"Rolling back these successful rules is a serious mistake that will cost consumers dearly".

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