Automakers, EPA willing to work together on fuel economy

Automakers, EPA willing to work together on fuel economy

Just as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said it is willing to discuss raising fuel economy standards, an Environmental Protection Agency official also reversed position and said the EPA is now willing to work with automakers.

The Alliance found in a recent poll that Americans want better fuel economy in their vehicles. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed, including 63 percent of Republicans, said the government should increase fuel economy standards. Consumers polled said they are willing to pay for the increase, but not enough. Two-thirds said they would pay less than $2,500 to meet the governmentês new standards, but that would not cover the cost.

Under rules finalized by the EPA a few days before President Trump took office, automakers would be required to meet a fleetwide standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025. That was written into the deal made in 2011 between the EPA and the automakers, with a midterm review required by April 2018.

The Obama-era EPA studied the many public comments it received last year and issued final standards more than a year before the deadline, in January of this year. Those standards stuck to the original schedule of 54.5 mpg by 2025. NADA, automakers and others in the industry felt that their comments, that the market shift to more SUVs and trucks made it much harder for automakers to meet that goal, had been ignored.

After Trump met with automakers early in his administration, he announced that he would reopen the midterm review, which now has its original deadline of April 1, 2018. At an automotive conference in Michigan last week, an EPA official who a year earlier had been gung ho on enforcing strict clean air standards showed much more willingness to compromise and work with automakers.

–I think we have a convergence of interests here with the administrationês focus on regulatory reform,” said Chris Gundler, the EPAês air quality chief, according to the Detroit Free Press. –I think it presents a golden opportunity for us to rethink how emissions get done.”

California, which under the Clean Air Act is permitted to write its own emissions and fuel economy standards, intends to stick with its own stricter standards. Several other states, including Maryland, and DC follow California standards.

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