President Trump's administration took a look at President Obama's corporate average fuel economy standards and, clearly, didn't like what it saw.
The administration proposed to freeze CAFE standards at the 2020 level of 37 miles per gallon, down significantly from the agreement to scale up CAFE standards to an estimated 46.8 mpg by 2025 model year vehicles.
Waves of opponents—including state and local governments, safety consumer, energy, conservation and environmental groups—have come out against this proposal and are mobilizing to stop the administration from rolling back the 2010 deal under President Obama that brought clarity to the industry.
Most notably, the agreement aligned the U.S. rules with California's, paving the way for auto makers and suppliers to make investments with a significant degree of certainty. That clarity is eroding away now that automotive stakeholders are not sure whether or not the 2010 pact will be honored by the Trump administration.
California has the authority to set its own low-emission vehicle standards under the Clear Air Act, and did so in 1990. Other states can follow California's lead in lieu of federal standards, but cannot exceed them. Trump also is proposing to rescind California's power to follow its own path on clean cars.
The federal EPA and NHTSA are expected to publish a final rule next year after reviewing thousands of public comments and as many as 18 states are expected to immediately challenge any final rule in line with Trump's proposal.
So far 13 states are establishing low-emission vehicle standards based on those in California. With Trump going one way, and a significant block of states going another, auto makers and suppliers will have to wade through a lengthy review and challenge process before clarity is restored.
Stretching too far
Rubber bands were a hot topic in 2018.
Alliance Rubber Co., the Hot Springs, Ark., producer of rubber bands, petitioned the International Trade Commission to establish antidumping and countervailing duties against rubber band imports from China and Thailand.
The Department of Commerce made its final determinations on antidumping and countervailing duties for rubber bands imported from China in November.