Mar 30, 2020
As the nation grapples with the coronavirus outbreak crisis, the Trump administration intends to further threaten public health and advance its attacks on environmental regulations with a new rule neutering Obama-era vehicle mileage standards, according to multiple news reports Monday.
The administration is expected to announce the new rule Tuesday.
The Obama administration in 2012 ordered automakers to have a 5% annual increase in fuel efficiency for model years beginning in 2021, a standard that would bring the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The Trump administration will significantly weaken that standard and instead require a 1.5% annual increase, putting the 2025 at 40 mpg.
"Of all the bad things President Trump has done to the environment, this is the worst," said Dan Becker, director of Safe Climate Campaign.
"Amid a spiraling health crisis and economic turmoil, Trump is recklessly driving us over a climate cliff," Becker added.
The final regulation's release will conclude a years-long effort to dismantle the ambitious standards, which supporters have called the most effective policy ever enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.
The expected regulatory change drew criticism from climate experts who said it spells bad news for consumers and the planet alike.
"This is an enormous license for car companies to lock in and profit from decades more pollution from SUVs," meteorologist and journalist Eric Holthaus said on Twitter Monday. "This rule change alone is expected to result in a billion tons of needless CO2."
Ken Kimmell, president of Union of Concerned Scientists, concurred.
"This new rule leaves the country worse off. In the near term, it's a massive transfer of tens of billions of dollars from drivers to oil companies, as consumers will spend more on gasoline due to less efficient cars. It also cedes American leadership in vehicle manufacturing, putting the automakers at risk in a global market. In the long term, it's even worse--a deliberate decision to steer us at high speed toward a more dangerous climate," said Kimmell.
"To add insult to injury, the Trump administration has barely even attempted to justify this new rule, basing its decision on flimsy or outright false arguments," he continued. "The stated rationale defies common sense, science, and the public interest. This new rule will face a difficult test in the federal courts, which should have no patience for this kind of shoddy reasoning."
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