Attorneys general for MD, DC and other states threaten action if EPA rolls back CAFE

Attorneys general for MD, DC and other states threaten action if EPA rolls back CAFE

Thirteen state attorneys general including Maryland and DC have pledged to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, if Administrator Scott Pruitt tries to roll back the stringent CAFE standards currently in place. The standards were approved in January just before President Obama left office.

NADA and other auto industry groups condemned the final approval of the standards by the EPA under Obama as a last-minute action that was rushed through before President Trump came to office. NADA said the move made cars and light trucks thousands of dollars more expensive, and it urged Trump to withdraw the action.

The standards were approved in 2012 by the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which had worked with the auto industry to write them. At the time, the industry was anxious to have a single national standard instead of the patchwork of state laws that was emerging.

The rule provided for a midterm review by April 2018. In the review, EPA had to consider –the availability and effectiveness of technology, the costs to manufacturers and consumers, and the impact of the standards on emission reductions, energy security, fuel savings and automobile safety,” according to the attorneys general letter to Pruitt.

When EPA, NHTSA and CARB issued a draft Technical Assessment Report last summer, the auto industry was stunned that it said the industry was on track to meet the goal of 54.5 mpg by MY 2025. The report did not take into account the shift in consumer preferences and purchase patterns to SUVs and light trucks. With gas prices as low as they are, people simply are not buying fuel-efficient vehicles. Several industry organizations, including NADA, pointed that out during the public comment period. But the final rule remained unchanged.

Since the Clean Air Act was amended in 1970, California has been granted a waiver that permits the state to create its own tougher clean air standards because of its poor air quality. Thirteen other states, including Maryland and DC, have adopted the California standards. Without a deal that everyone agrees upon, the industry will have to continue with two sets of emissions standards.

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