Trump expected to roll back EPA fuel standards

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Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump’s administration is expected to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards designed to limit carbon emissions from vehicles this week, according to Forbes.

The fuel standards, known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, were set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 and required that all cars and light trucks average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, according to Forbes. The agency required that the goal be re-evaluated in 2017.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not specify how the agency plans to revise the rules, but an EPA statement said that in light of “recent data,” the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised.

“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high.”

Kathleen Nemerson, University of Connecticut economics professor, said though the move may save consumers money when buying cars, she does not agree with the EPA’s decision because it will harm the environment and cost consumers more in the long run.

“It will clearly have negative environmental impacts,” Nemerson said. “Vehicle emissions are a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and hence have major impacts on both the environment and human health. Rolling back the standards will lead to significantly higher emissions, since overall the fleet of vehicles on our roads and highways will be much less fuel efficient.”

The regulations were designed to reduce gasoline consumption and therefore reduce the emissions of a number of pollutants, including greenhouse gases, Nemerson said.

“That goal is extremely important, as fuel economy standards are one way to try to reduce gasoline consumption,” Nemerson said. “Given our reluctance to adopt other measures, rolling back the fuel economy standards will be a major setback for achieving environmental improvements over the next decade.”

The move was immediately criticized by environmental groups, but supported by conservative and libertarians.

“The Trump Administration’s decision will take America backward by jeopardizing successful safeguards that are working to clean our air, save drivers money at the pump and drive technological innovation that creates jobs,” Director of the Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project at the Natural, Luke Tonachel, said in a statement.

Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told CNBC that the EPA’s announcement is good for consumers who care about safety, performance, size and fuel economy in the cars they drive.

“This is the first step in many years toward reducing government control over what kinds of cars people can choose to buy,” Ebell said.

Nemerson said though it’s possible that the price of large, gas-guzzling vehicles will be lower if the standards are rolled back, consumers will be paying more in gasoline costs because of the lower fuel economy.

“In addition, consumers also breathe the air and feel the effects of climate change on our environment,” Nemerson said. “So although consumers may be able to buy cheaper cars, overall I do not think they will benefit.”

Nemerson said the move is another example of the Trump Administration being anti-regulation and unconcerned with climate change.

“In just about any issue where industry has objected to an environmental regulation, the administration has prioritized promoting the industry,” Nemerson said. “It has clearly put more weight on that than on protecting the environment and human health.”


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.

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