Monday, 15 October, 2018

How new fuel standards will impact California vehicles

Jon Wong  Roadshow Jon Wong Roadshow
Stacy Houston | 03 August, 2018, 18:15

"In short, the agencies propose to maintain one national standard - a standard that is set exclusively by the Federal government". But at that point the two rules diverge, with the Obama era rule mandating continued increases in efficiency. 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. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday.

A group of 20 state attorneys general announced their intent to sue the government over the EPA's proposed rules, arguing that the new guidelines would cost Americans up to $236 billion in gas and add the equivalent of emissions from 400 million cars.

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

The administration's proposal would freeze miles-per-gallon targets in 2020.

"We strongly oppose the Trump administration plan to roll back these clean-car standards, and we're going to fight to do that", Shapiro said in a conference call with the attorneys general of California, Xavier Becerra, and Massachusetts, Maura Healey.

Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted California's standards.

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Representatives of the US auto industry praised the administration's proposal, even as some automakers privately have expressed unease at the prospect of abrupt changes in fuel standards and having to meet different standards in different states.

States that joined the lawsuit said the change would end up costing more money at the pump because vehicles won't go as far on a gallon of gas, and more misery for those suffering pollution-exacerbated maladies such as asthma. That means a 43.7 mpg for passenger cars and 31.3 mpg for light trucks. Electric cars and trucks still account for a tiny fraction of those sold, and driver preference for SUVs, along with relatively low gas prices, have inhibited progress there.

The soaring prices of cars have led more Americans to hold off on new auto purchases. In 1989, aHarvard-Brookings study estimated that the modest 27.5 mile-per-gallon requirement at the time caused a 14 to 27 percent increase in traffic deaths because carmakers downsized vehicles.

"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement. "It is anticipated to prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries as compared to the standards set forth in the 2012 final rule".

Most automakers haven't had time to react to the proposal, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the "proposed rule recognizes that assumptions made in 2012 about consumer preferences have fundamentally shifted in 2018".

Officials in the Trump administration said their actions would make autos more affordable and that would make roads safer because more motorists would be driving newer cars with the latest safety features. In 1992, a federals appeals court ruled that the NHTSA was using "bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo" to avoid addressing the lethal effects of the CAFE standards. "The Trump administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation's clean vehicle standards", Becerra said on Twitter.

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