Fuel efficiency standards were first introduced in 1975 and are estimated to have saved Americans more than $2tn in fuel costs since then. "It also relies on weird assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety", California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols told Vox.
California is fighting to keep fuel-efficiency standards in place after the EPA announced the rollback of Obama-era mileage standards.
The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it. "We have been steadily increasing the standards... for nearly a decade", said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum on a call with reporters Thursday. About a dozen other states have followed California's lead. "Not only does fuel savings cover the cost of fuel efficient technology, but it also covers all of the other costs that go into automakers annual price increases, including new safety features". These changes were expected under the administration of President Donald Trump, who has said that fuel economy standards were imposing greater costs on the average consumer.
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"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to U.S. roads", said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
The Trump administration has moved to weaken United States vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.
He said there's no question consumers are going to be hurt by this freeze and that the analysis behind the proposal overstates how many lives will be saved by relying heavily on a theory that people drive more miles in more fuel-efficient cars, resulting in more accidents and injuries because there are more people on the road.
As vehicle manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say.
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"Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less", he said.
The proposal would freeze US mileage standards at 2020 levels, when the new vehicle fleet will be required to hit an average of 30 miles per gallon in real-world driving. Despite the waiver, California still fails to meet federal clean air guidelines, the agencies noted.
About a third of these projected savings, or $198 billion, are tied to the agencies' assertion that, by slowing pace at which new vehicles get more expensive, they'll allow people to replace older and less-safe cars more rapidly. Markey told reporters on a phone conference in response to the administration's proposal Thursday.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the rollback would imperil the state's efforts to curb greenhouse gases and clean up some of the nation's most polluted air. "California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible", Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement. Trump's proposal lowers that to around 35 mpg by the year 2020.
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