USA eyes freeze of fuel efficiency rules

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They've argued that the Obama-era standards Trump proposes to sweep aside are outdated, established when the US was over-reliant on foreign oil, and that they don't reflect huge increases in USA exports of crude oil and petroleum products since then.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have unveiled their new proposal for fuel economy standards following the scrapping of the Obama-era plan which called for a corporate average fuel economy rating of 54.5 mpg (65.4 mpg United Kingdom / 4.3L / 100km) by 2025. Critics said it would accelerate climate change and increase fuel prices.

Just as significant, the administration is taking public comment on revoking California's Clean Air Act waiver for greenhouse gases. "For 48 years - since one of my heroes, then-Governor Ronald Reagan, requested it - California has had a waiver from the federal government to clean our own air", Schwarzenegger wrote in a statement on Twitter.

The attorneys general of 20 states, including California, pledged to sue the administration. State officials have vowed take aggressive legal action to prevent implementation of the new standards.

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Attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia say they'll go to court to stop a proposed rollback in mileage standards. CARB was created in 1967 to fight increasing air pollution in the state due to population growth, and its rules have been adopted by 12 other states and Washington D.C., according to the State of Maryland. The administration argues that should make new cars cheaper, and get newer, safer cars on the roads quicker as a result.

"It's my goal and this administration's goal to come up with a 50-state solution, and we want to have a 50-state solution that does not necessitate preempting California".

Both the targets from the Obama and Trump eras will not apply uniformly to all vehicles, instead vehicles will be assessed based on their footprint and respective category, passenger vehicle or light truck.

But Andrew Wheeler, the acting chief of the EPA, told lawmakers on Wednesday that he doesn't want the federal standard to contradict states that want to require higher gas mileage. About a dozen other states have followed California's lead. Electric cars and trucks still account for a tiny fraction of those sold, and driver preference for SUVs, along with relatively low gas prices, have inhibited progress there. "California will continue to invest in charging stations to meet consumers' demand for zero-emission cars and make them available regardless of your income level". But a joint proposal released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would freeze those standards for post-2020 models, meaning cars would only have to average about 37 mpg by 2026. Eliminating the standards altogether would be ideal, but this move is a reasonable response to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) trying to set standards for the whole country. At the moment, the state standard and the national one are the same-but if they diverged, automakers could end up making multiple versions of each auto to sell in different parts of the U.S. The Trump administration wants to take away California's right to set higher standards. In announcing the new standards in 2012, the Obama administration said the stricter rules would save around 6bn tons of greenhouse gases by 2026, as well as save Americans $1.7tn in fuel costs.

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