The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department recently announced that greenhouse gas emissions rules for new model cars and light trucks made between 2021 and 2025 may be rewritten in the coming months. The notice begins a 45-day public comment period on a potential relaxation of the rules for cars and light trucks. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency was committed to an “open and robust review of emissions standards,” while simultaneously characterizing human impact on climate change as “so-called settled science.”
In 2012, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) adopted rules requiring the nation’s car and light trucks to average 35 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2017, 36 mpg in 2018, 37 mpg in 2019, nearly 39 mpg in 2020, 41 mpg by 2021 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. At the time, manufacturers objected, arguing that the standards would be too difficult (and too expensive) to meet. Opponents of the standards estimate they could add at least $2,000 to the sticker price of some vehicles. With President Trump now in the White House, opponents of the rules saw an opening and have pressed the new administration to reconsider the rule.
Even as the United States looks to relax emission rules, many manufacturers continue to improve fuel efficiency. Just last month, Volvo vowed to make all its vehicles hybrids or electrics starting in 2019. Earlier this month, Honda introduced a new all-electric sedan in California and Oregon.
The Consumer Federation of America, which supports the existing emission standards, says consumer surveys find that car buyers prefer fuel-efficient vehicles that save them money at the gas pump.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which opposes the existing standards, says the review should rely on facts to drive improvements in fuel economy.