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The Trump administration has completed withdrawal of an important climate policy from the Obama era and weakened auto emission standards, which it believes will mean cheaper cars for consumers.
“Making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible to American families saves more lives and creates more jobs,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao in a statement.
Consumer surveillance organizations, environmental groups and even the Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientific advisory board have raised concerns about this rationale. The weakened standards would lead to polluted air in the long term and cost consumers at the petrol pump.
Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, described the new rule as a step to “correct” greenhouse gas emissions standards, which were costly for automakers to comply with.
“Our last rule … strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment and sets reasonable goals for the auto industry,” said Wheeler in a statement.
The SAFE rule (Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles) will tighten carbon dioxide emissions standards by 1.5% per year until model year 2026, compared to around 5% per year as part of the Obama policy.
The Trump administration originally proposed to freeze the standards altogether without an increase. It changed the rule after the recoil not only from environmental groups, but also from some automakers who feared that they would lose their balance in a global market that is increasingly geared towards lower-emission cars and trucks.
Critics say, however, that the new regulation will result in almost a billion additional tons of warming CO2 in the atmosphere, and that consumers will end up losing money if they buy about 80 billion gallons more gas.
“This rule will result in polluted air at a time when our country is working around the clock to respond to a breathing pandemic, the effects of which can be compounded by air pollution,” said Senator Tom Carper, D-Del ., In a statement. He is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Committee on the Environment and Public Works.
The Trump administration claims the new rule will save lives because Americans will buy newer, safer vehicles. However, Carper points out that according to his own analyzes, there would be even more premature deaths due to increased air pollution.
For this and other reasons, the new standards face legal challenges. In fact, even the Trump administration’s own science advisers said: “The scientific analysis of the proposed rule has significant weaknesses.”
“Withdrawal of vehicle emissions standards is based on analysis, which is deficient even given the shockingly unprofessional standards of deregulation in the Trump era,” said Richard Revesz of the Institute for Political Integrity and Emeritus Dean at the New York University School of Law.
California and other states are also likely to file a lawsuit against the rule. They have exercised their longstanding right to set their own, stricter emissions standards, which has also challenged the Trump administration.
A worst-case scenario for car manufacturers would be different standards in different countries. The new policy can ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court, but the uncertainty that is waiting would take its own toll on an industry that has to plan years in advance.
Thomas Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance, welcomed the new standards. In a statement, he said the Obama era mandate was “impossible to achieve without dramatically changing the automotive market or making vehicle costs out of reach for most American families. This new rule will make cars more affordable for consumers.” a time when they need it most. ”
The Trump administration has pushed through a series of environmental setbacks to complete well before the November election. That would make it more difficult for a democratic president, if elected, to reverse them.