Following almost two years of negotiations with the auto industry and other stakeholders, the EPA has officially proposed to freeze fuel economy standards, which could slow down electric vehicle adoption.
During the Obama era, automakers agreed to a plan to double their fleet wide average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025 in the US.
The plan would have encouraged them to mass produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, like electric vehicles, in order to compensate for their highly profitable SUVs and pickup trucks.
Even though they originally agreed to the rule, the industry launched a renewed effort to change the rules since the election of Donald Trump as President and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.
The automaker lobbying group, which includes virtually every automaker except for Tesla and a few French automakers, sent a letter to Trump’s transition team just two days after his election to lobby for him to relax the rules.
They have kept the pressure on since, but it was seen as an easy battle to win with Trump putting Pruitt, a known anti-EPA advocate and a paid oil industry shill, in charge of the EPA.
Pruitt resigned as head of the EPA head last month, but he was replaced by climate denier and coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as acting administrator.
The EPA has now officially released its proposal and it will result in freezing the fuel economy standard starting in 2020 in order for them to not reach the more aggressive goals originally set between 2021 and 2026.
The agency, whose goal is to protect the environment, estimates that those goals would have been “costly.” The estimated CAFE and CO2 levels for passenger cars would be set to average at 43.7 mpg (5.38 l/100 km) and 204 g CO2/mile under the new proposal.
Wheeler commented on the release of the new proposal:
“We are delivering on President Trump’s promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards.Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less. More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment. We value the public’s input as we engage in this process in an open, transparent manner.”
The ’50-state solution’ is an attempt to block California from implementing its own set of regulations which have been historically much stricter than the federal regulation imposed by the EPA and it is truer than ever with this proposed change by the agency.
As per the NPRM rulemaking process, the EPA has to now seek public comments.
Environmental groups are already voicing their opinion against the rules while climate change denying groups, like the National Center for Public Policy Research, are applauding the proposal.
What’s most disgusting here is the EPA’s role is clearly to protect the environment and environmental groups unanimously agreed that they should have kept the standards or even make them stricter.
The only groups asking for lower standards were the automakers and oil industry and yet, that’s who the agency that is in charge of protecting the environment decided to listen to.
That said, I believe that automakers have to go electric anyway with pressure from competitors like Tesla, but some of them are still extremely driven by regulations, which is why many automakers are focusing their electric efforts in Europe and China, where the regulations are stricter.
I think it will definitely result in the US falling further behind in EV adoption and potentially result in American automakers failing behind overall if they don’t see EV as a priority in their own market.
It’s not a done deal and you can submit your feedback here, but I am not very optimistic that they will listen since I completely lost faith in the EPA upholding its mission.