The Obama administration has decided not to change government fuel-economy requirements for cars and light trucks despite protests from auto makers.
The decision means auto makers, at least for now, will still have to meet strict fuel-economy requirements and companies likely will continue building small cars and electric vehicles still even though people are buying more SUVs and trucks.
The standards had required the fleet of new cars to average 4.32 litres per 100 kilometres by 2025. But there was a built-in reduction if buying habits changed, raising the number to 4.63. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement that based on the agency’s technical analysis, auto makers can meet emissions standards and mileage requirements through 2025. The standards will increase the new-vehicle fleet’s average gas mileage requirement from 6.9 L/100 km this year. That will dramatically cut carbon pollution and save U.S. drivers billions in gas costs, the EPA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering,” Ms. McCarthy said in the statement.
The EPA will take public comments on the decision until Dec. 30, then Ms. McCarthy will make a final decision, a rare speedy move for a government agency. The quick approval means the decision would become final before U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated in January, even though a final decision wasn’t required until April, 2018. The EPA denied that the rushed timetable was because of Mr. Trump’s election.
Mr. Trump has stated he wants to end some government regulations and has said in the past that he wants to get rid of the EPA. Leading Mr. Trump’s transition team on the EPA is Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank that gets financial support from the fossil-fuel industry and that opposes “global-warming alarmism.”
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group that represents 12 auto makers, including BMW, Toyota and General Motors, called the quick decision a “premature rush to judgment” and said it has asked Mr. Trump to review postelection regulations.
Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, said in a conference call with reporters that auto makers have multiple technological pathways to meet the standards, from direct-injection gas engines to hybrids and electric vehicles. The industry is ahead of schedule on the standards, she said. More than 100 vehicles on the market are already meeting standards set for 2020.Report Typo/Error