WASHINGTON — Moving forcefully against Obama-era environmental rules, President Donald Trump is set to announce in Michigan plans to re-examine federal requirements that regulate the fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks.
Trump is expected to reveal his plans during an appearance March 15 at the American Center for Mobility in Detroit where he’ll challenge the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) emissions targets that were a centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat global warming. The rollback underscores the Trump administration’s rejection of mainstream climate science in an effort to boost economic growth.
The EPA under Obama’s stewardship had promulgated a rule for cars and trucks requiring a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The move will have no immediate effect. But it is expected to set the stage for weaker fuel efficiency standards as well as drawn-out legal battles with environmental groups and states like California that have adopted their own tough tailpipe standards for drivers.
The president will target the Obama administration’s January decision to end a review process before he left office.
Back in 2012, the Obama set fuel-economy regulations for model years 2017-2025. The administration agreed to complete a midterm evaluation in 2018. But seven days before Obama left office, the EPA decided to keep the stringent requirements it had set in place for model years 2022 to 2025. The industry balked at the decision, insisting it was rushed through to beat the change in administrations.
Trump will announce that he’s putting that midterm review back on track, so that officials can spend another year studying the issue before setting new standards in 2018.
While the administration has not said explicitly it wants to weaken the standards, a senior White House official said the Obama-era EPA had ignored reams of data cited by the automotive industry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity at a White House briefing in order to outline the action, despite the president’s criticism of the use of un-named sources.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen major car manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, last month urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to relax the standards, saying they will drive up car costs, price customers out of the market and depress the industry. Obama’s EPA had argued the costs to consumers were mitigated by gas savings and that the rules would decrease greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Trump campaigned on eliminating “job killing” regulations, and the administration is expected to take additional steps in the coming days to roll back environmental regulations.