The Trump administration on Thursday moved to freeze fuel economy standards in what officials described as an effort to give drivers access to “safer” and “more affordable” vehicles, in the latest decision to unravel part of former President Barack Obama’s legacy.
The proposal comes just one day after the Trump administration announced major changes to health plans, providing consumers with more options to buy cheaper, short-term health insurance.
The Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency proposed the vehicle change as the first formal step in setting new standards for model years 2021 through 2026. The plan would freeze the Obama-era requirements set to take effect after 2020.
“There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement Thursday. “More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to U.S. roads and we look forward to receiving input from the public.”
The administration also filed notice Thursday that it wants to revoke the authority of California and other states to set their own, stricter mileage standards — independent of federal ones.
Acting EPA Director Andrew Wheeler said the frozen standards would deliver on President Trump’s “promise” on 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,” Wheeler said in a statement. “More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment.”
The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the administration supports freezing the mileage standards after 2020, but would seek public comment now on that proposal and a range of others, including leaving the tighter, Obama administration fuel standards in place.
The current standards, according to the Department of Transportation, have been a factor in the rising costs of new cars to an average of $35,000 or more, which they argue is “out of reach” for most American families.
Keeping the current standards in place, which were finalized in 2012, would add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car, and would impose more than $500 billion in costs to the economy over the next 50 years, according to the Department of Transportation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Published at Thu, 02 Aug 2018 13:04:00 +0000