WASHINGTON—The EPA formally published its decision to overturn the Obama administration's vehicle fuel efficiency standards in the Federal Register on April 13.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last week that the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for the 2022-25 model years were not appropriate and prematurely locked in before President Trump took office in January 2017.
"The administrator determines that the current standards are based on outdated information, and that more recent information suggests that the current standards may be too stringent," the EPA said in the public notice. "The administrator believes that the current GHG emissions standards for MY 2022-2025 light duty vehicles presents challenges for auto manufacturers due to feasibility and practicality, raises potential concerns related to automobile safety, and results in significant additional costs on consumers, especially low-income consumers."
Auto makers agreed to participate in the program designed to roughly double fuel economy in passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks in phases beginning in 2012 but successfully lobbied Trump to reopen a scheduled midterm review intended to make sure the targets were still realistic.
The document listed several reasons for Pruitt's determination that the upcoming corporate average fuel economy standards are not appropriate:
• The original determination made optimistic assumptions and projections about the availability and effectiveness of emission control and alternative fuel technologies, the appropriate lead time for their introduction and consumer acceptance of electric vehicles.
• Auto makers' compliance with the standards has slowed as it becomes more difficult to wring out extra mileage after initial gains in early years of the program.
• Uncertainty about the pace of development and efficiency improvements that dynamic skip fire, variable compression ratio engines, Mazda's Skyactiv-X and other technologies protected by intellectual property rights can produce for conventional engines.
• Auto makers face rising costs to produce high-efficiency vehicles and better understanding of the impact of affordability on new vehicle sales is required.
• The standards may not produce the projected benefits in emissions reduction, fuel savings, oil conservation and energy security.
• More rigorous economic analysis is needed to assess the potential economic impact, including employment, of complying with the standards.
• Using lighter materials to meet the standards may compromise vehicle safety.
In most cases, the EPA sided with auto makers.
The EPA said it will continue to work with California and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a harmonized national program.
You can reach Eric Kulisch at [email protected]