EPA Readies Rollback of Fuel Efficiency Regulations

Rumors are flooding in that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will sign a declaration upending the Obama-era fuel economy regulations any day now. New details have emerged claiming Pruitt plans to visit a Chevrolet dealership in Virginia to publicly condemn the existing 2025 targets as unrealistic. Reportedly scheduled for next Tuesday, the EPA head will be accompanied by groups representing both automakers and car dealers.

California is going to be furious. 

According to Reuters, administration officials and several automotive representatives have verified the event as legitimate. However, they noted that the specific revisions to the existing fuel economy standards and emissions limits have yet to be decided. A rollback is guaranteed but nobody seems to have decided by how much.

The EPA mentioned a detailed proposal for the changes could arrive in late May or June, while the Transportation Department is pushing for a tighter timeline. Regardless, an agency spokesperson said Pruitt will autograph something that will open the rules for alteration on April 1st.

Existing rules seek an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, something automakers initially agreed to but later expressed concerns over once Donald Trump took office in 2017. Meanwhile, sales-weighted data has shown no meaningful improvement in U.S. average economy for several years. While the onus of that rests with consumers more than it does manufacturers, it pokes holes in the argument that higher regulatory standards will have a positive environmental impact.

That said, softer targets are unlikely to be any different. But the practical increase of fuel efficiency may have had more to do with the economy than President Obama’s regulatory mandates. Signed into law in 2011, the existing fuel rules came at a time when gas prices were higher and the average family income was lower.

Leaving corporate MPG targets at the mercy of the market could be risky, and not just because America could find itself unprepared for a sudden spike in oil prices. California and several other states have said they will adhere to Obama-era rules if national standards are lowered. If the rollback occurs, which is practically a guarantee, the Golden State is likely to take legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt weighed in on California’s fueling stance earlier this month. “California is not the arbiter of these issues,” he said, “[The state] shouldn’t and can’t dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be.”

this article first appeared on The Truth About Cars