Two sets of fuel economy standards may be likely

Two sets of fuel economy standards may be likely

California and the states that follow its fuel economy rules including Maryland and DC decided to stick with the more stringent standards initiated in 2012 and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in the waning days of the Obama administration. The California Air Resources Board voted to do so late last week, and the other states that agreed to follow Californiaês rules must do so in this case.

Meanwhile, Trump has said his administration will review those standards, and it is widely expected that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will at least push back the deadline for meeting them. Under the current rule, the automotive fleet must average 54.5 mpg by 2025.

The result will be a return to two sets of standards, one for California and the states that follow it, and another for the rest of the country. Thatês the situation automakers have been anxious to avoid and one reason they approved the current standards when they were set in 2012. Media reports have said that Trump could try to overturn the waiver that allows California to set its own standards. If he did, the golden state would surely sue.

Some automakers have said they will continue with plans to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient. Thatês in large part because the rest of the world is moving toward stricter emissions mandates, not weaker ones, and the automakers are global companies.

A recent report from the International Council on Clean Transportation, an independent research group, found that the costs of complying with the current vehicle emissions standards have been –consistently overstated.” Technology costs continue to fall on measures ranging from lightweighting conventionally powered vehicles by using aluminum to building alternative powertrains such as electric. As a result, compliance costs are 34 percent to 40 percent lower than the Obama administration estimated in January — $551 instead of $875 for the period from 2015 to 2021, the report said.

But none of these calculations changes the facts at the retail level: American consumers are buying more SUVs and light trucks. For that reason alone, dealers and automakers alike would prefer the flexibility of pushing back deadlines for emissions targets.

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