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But it is a step that will have major environmental impacts and will weaken former President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat the climate crisis.
The final rule, drawn up by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, was unveiled on Tuesday.
The rule stipulates that fuel consumption and emissions standards will increase by 1.5% annually and not by around 5% usually from 2012. According to the rule, standards will be increased to 40.4 miles per gallon by the 2026 vehicle model year, which is approximately 6 miles per gallon less than the 2012 rule.
The administration’s original proposal would have frozen the standards.
The change “reflects the reality of today’s markets,” the government said, such as increased interest in SUVs over smaller cars and the current use of credit by automakers to achieve their goals.
“Our last rule is a sensible national program that creates the right regulatory balance to protect our environment and sets reasonable goals for the auto industry,” said Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator. “This rule supports our economy and the security of American families.”
An internal economic analysis found that while the new fuel consumption standard would lower prices for new cars and trucks, it would increase the amount consumers pay for gasoline and ultimately cost the US economy $ 13-22 billion, the report said Times.
The government said on Tuesday that it believes the rule will cut the average cost of a new car by $ 1,000, which will result in more Americans replacing their older vehicles with newer ones with enhanced safety features. That would lead to fewer traffic fatalities, it said.
Gina McCarthy, a former Obama EPA administrator who now heads the Natural Resources Defense Council, argued that “exempting the standards for clean cars makes no sense.”
“It will harm the air we breathe, halt progress in combating the climate crisis, and increase travel costs. The only winner of this action is the oil industry, which wants us to drive dirty gas guzzlers for as long as possible,” said McCarthy in a statement Tuesday.
She accused the Trump administration of not focusing on the global coronavirus pandemic, but “undermining efforts to address another major health threat.”
The rule, which is expected to be implemented in late spring, is likely to pose legal challenges from several countries, according to the Times.
Shortly after taking office, the Trump administration tried to re-examine these stricter Obama era standards and end California’s authority to set stricter emissions standards than federal standards for itself and 12 other states.