New York Times: Trump administration to roll back fuel efficiency standards, weakening efforts to combat climate change

National/World News

U.S. President Donald Trump waves to the news media as he boards Air Force One to depart for travel to California from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., November 17, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

(CNN) — The Trump administration is planning to finalize a rule that will loosen tough fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, a move that will have large environmental consequences and weaken former President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change,The New York Times reported.

The finalized rule, prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, is expected to be unveiled Tuesday.

According to the Times, the new rule does away with the Obama-era standards from 2012 for automakers to produce vehicles with an average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 model year vehicles, lowering it down to 40 miles per gallon, according to the Times.

The Trump administration would mandate a 1.5% annual increase in fuel efficiency, compared to the 5% annual increase under Obama, the Times reported.

“This rule when finalized will benefit all Americans by improving the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, reducing air pollution, making new vehicles more affordable for all Americans and save lives,” EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told The Washington Post, adding that she could not comment on specifics because it’s still being reviewed.

On Twitter Monday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler argued that the final rule will raise US fleet fuel economy, lower air pollution and “make new vehicles more affordable.”

According to the Times, a recent draft plan showed that the new rule would allow for nearly a billion more tons of carbon dioxide released, as well as 80 billion more gallons of gasoline consumed.

An internal economic analysis found that while the new fuel economy standard would lower new car and truck prices, it would increase the amount consumers pay for gasoline and ultimately cost the US economy between $13 billion and $22 billion, the Times noted.

Citing two people briefed on the rule, the Post reported that the government’s estimates found that more Americans will die as a result of the increased air pollution from the new standards compared to if the current standards were kept within a similar period.

The rule, expected to be implemented in late spring, is likely to draw legal challenges from several states, according to the Times.

Shortly after taking office, the Trump administration had moved to reexamine those tougher Obama-era standards and end California’s authority to set tougher emissions standards than the federal standards for itself and 12 other states.

For decades, California has had a waiver under the Clean Air Act that allows it to set its own emissions standards due to the state’s history of intense air pollution. President Donald Trump announced in September he was revoking California’s waiver, prompting the Golden State to lead a coalition of Democratic-contolled states and cities in suing the administration.

Fearing that drawn out litigation would lead to regulatory uncertainty, leading automakers asked the Trump administration in June to abandon their plans to scrap the emissions standards and restart talks with California about a compromise.

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