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Trump To Undo Fuel Efficiency Standards

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The Trump administration is set to undo one of former President Obama’s signature achievements. On Tuesday, the EPA and the Transportation Department are expected to jointly announce the rollback of fuel efficiency requirements for the nation’s auto fleet, a move that will not require the approval of Congress.

In the wake of the financial crisis and the crumbling of top U.S. automakers, the federal government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, while other companies were severely damaged and barely survived the downturn. With their backs against the wall, the Obama administration was able to push through historic fuel efficiency requirements, known as corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, the most stringent in decades. For cars made between 2012 and 2016, car companies had to achieve an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon, up from 25 mpg previously. For model years 2017-2025, fuel efficiency had to jump to 54.5 mpg.

The requirements have successfully boosted the efficiency of the nation’s auto fleet, with cars and trucks steadily achieving ever higher ratings on fuel efficiency. Car companies have ratcheted up efficiency on multiple fronts, introducing new electric vehicles and electric-hybrid models, while also boosting the fuel efficiency of traditional cars and trucks.

But at the behest of the auto industry, President Trump is set scrap those requirements. A coalition of 17 automakers sent letters to the EPA asking the agency to remove the CAFE standards, calling it “the single most important decision the EPA has made in recent history.” The car companies said the standards are unreachable, and that they would force the industry to spend $200 billion over the next decade in order to comply with them.

There is one other important element to watch. After the election of Donald Trump, many analysts speculated that such a move to scrap the fuel efficiency standards could be forthcoming, but the significance was downplayed due to one fact: the state of California has long been allowed to set its own standards. Because California typically implemented stricter standards than the federal government, the entire auto industry tended to adhere to the requirements because they couldn’t make different cars for different states. In effect, California could drag the rest of the country along with tighter fuel efficiency. This arrangement would prevent the Trump administration from backtracking on efficiency – the scrapping of the federal standards would be largely symbolic if California required carmakers to continue to tighten fuel efficiency.

However, there are reports that the Trump administration could target California’s ability to set its own standards, which would have far-reaching consequences if the federal government succeeds. California officials have already said that they would sue if Washington tries to take away their ability to implement their own fuel efficiency standards and they have retained the services of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“If the Trump administration were to rely on facts and sound science, they would come to the same conclusion that the EPA staff and outside experts reached: The 2025 standards are achievable and in a way that will save consumers trillions in fuel costs,” Margo Oge, former head of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality, told the LA Times.

The implications of this fight are potentially enormous. The Obama administration argued that while the CAFE standards would cost the auto industry $200 billion over 13 years, they would save consumers some $1.7 trillion in avoided fuel costs over the life of the vehicles. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the CAFE standards put in place by the Obama administration could cut U.S. oil demand by 3 million barrels per day by 2030.

Even if those figures are overly optimistic, the trend is clear. The CAFE standards are arguably one of the single most important policy achievements at cutting oil consumption. But they will be undone if the Trump administration is successful.

Meanwhile, oil analysts at Wood Mackenzie expect U.S. gasoline demand to hit a peak in 2018, and global gasoline demand could peak by 2021 even though vehicle sales will continue to grow. But the flattening of gasoline demand is largely the result of more efficient vehicles, a development that can be attributed to fuel efficiency standards around the world.

By Nick Cunningham of

24 Comments on "Trump To Undo Fuel Efficiency Standards"

  1. forbin on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 9:51 am 

    “… the CAFE standards would cost the auto industry $200 billion over 13 years, they would save consumers some $1.7 trillion in avoided fuel costs over the life of the vehicles…”

    Maybe Trump will think it through – if CAFE goes up then eventually the USA can have energy Independence by only using its own oil reserves..

    you never know ( well I can guess )


  2. Ghung on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 10:25 am 

    Jeez… and so it goes. Probably won’t matter much soon as available cheap credit dries up and few will be able to afford these new vehicles, regardless of their better/worse fuel economy.

  3. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 10:41 am 

    Awesome. And bring back 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V with pistons the size of coffee cans. And Freon A/C and an 8-track. I knew Trump will make America Great Again!

  4. Cloggie on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 11:02 am 

    Plain stupid measure.

  5. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 12:11 pm 

    Who cares about CAFE standards that were not followed effectively anyhow. If people want big vehicles they will find a way around standards. This is a behavioral thing. Kind of like carbon credits that are misused and abused. More sunning the penis if you ask me. If we want to get serious about conservation and lower consumption then lets promote ways to drive less or not at all. More with less always turns out to be more with modern humans. This is more BS anti-Trump politics. Like the other side that thinks they are so green really are green. All of this is one big comedy that is a tragedy. I am all for phasing out cars but that means phasing out our car driven civilization and that means collapse. Collapse is coming anyway so what does it matter anyway. If people are going to be people then collapse is coming. It is a trap and we are oblivious to what it all means and that is a coming collapse of unsustainable arrangements. Car are the worst environmentally destructive aspect of modern civilization and we ooh and awe over them like children.

  6. sidzepp on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 12:41 pm 

    Elect billionaires and put a bunch of oil people in government, what other options would be expected!

  7. pennzoilbill on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 1:48 pm 

    I said this when I first saw a Honda earth dreams motor, for real go ride a [pedal] bike. Cars are the worst thing for the environment but here in America, good luck not having one. We are in for some fun times ahead, America first, clean air last #hesnotfuckingupfastenough

  8. Jerome Purtzer on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 2:21 pm 

    The Donald is so hugely smart that he will power all cars, including a 1978 Lincoln Mark V with his brain through kinetics or was that dianetics.

  9. Hawkcreek on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 2:21 pm 

    Between CAFE and excessive safety standards, the gov effectively made if impossible for a small start-up company to ever compete with the big guys. Every time they do something to add $500 to the cost of a car, they ensure that the debt slaves will be even more in debt, and most of that $500 will be profit for the manufacturer.

  10. DerHundistlos on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 4:19 pm 

    Davy, so are you saying that CAFE standards have been a failure and should never have been implemented? Consequently, Trump should not be criticized but thanked for abandoning CAFE standards?
    If you want people to drive less or not at all, than an alternative means of transportation must exist so can we now depend on Trump to support viable mass transit?
    How do you get to the Wool Mart?

    Just curious.

  11. penury on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 4:43 pm 

    CAFE standards are a failure. Any standard which is designed as an average for different models are phony. Set standards for each type of vehicle produced and insure that the standard is met. I do not believe that any mass transit plan will work in the U.S. Too much sprawl, too many people wanting the use4 of private transportation. Maybe in 20 years if enough inexpensive options are available.

  12. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 5:48 pm 

    Penury, don’t make the imperfect the enemy of the good (re CAFE standards. As long as there was a credible threat that serious penalties would actually be inflicted for failure to comply, these are a good thing.

  13. Davy on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 6:01 pm 

    Der hund, either we are serious about conservation or we are not. The in between grey shade is fake. It is one of appearance not reality. Real green is not driving and living a localized life. Few greens fit that description. As long as cars are an experience and an enabler of discretionary wants they will be sustainability sink.

    If we are serious about reducing fuel consumption per mile driven then let’s mandate far fewer vehicle types per need. Biger cars should only be for multi-occupancy. Light trucks for contracting not single occupancy. Discretionary driving should be limited. That won’t jive with modern greens or non-greens alike becuase cars are an extension of our persona. We have a market based capitalistic system where free choice rules. Again this come down to real behavioral changes not fake standards or notional efficiency with big loopholes.

    I could give a shit either way becuase society is not serious about conservation so any conservation effort is quickly consumed by some other higher impact discretionary want or exploding human population. I hate cars anyway. They are a primary reason why we have a die off ahead.

  14. DerHundistlos on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 6:08 pm 

    CORRECT Outcast.

    Auto manufacturers have no incentive to improve vehicle efficiency standards. CAFE standards have ensured over the decades that auto mfgs. improve efficiency as technology improved. Vehicles would still be getting 11 MPG if left to their own devices.

    We know from history that vehicle efficiency increased steadily throughout the early 1980s as the Carter administrations fuel economy law was
    phased in. Between 1976 and 1985, average passenger vehicle mileage DOUBLED from about 13.5 mpg to 27.5, while fuel economy for light trucks increased from 11.6 mpg to 19.5. The auto makers lobbied their friends in the Reagan administration to freeze standards in 1986. And so it was done…….

  15. DerHundistlos on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 6:12 pm 

    Davy, ” That won’t jive with modern greens or non-greens alike becuase cars are an extension of our persona.”

    You finally nailed this greenie. I love my 1992 Ford Taurus station wagon for the status symbol it projects.

  16. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 12:50 am 

    Well Der Honda Toast,
    I don’t know what’s more amazingly awesome,
    That you are proud to drive that cat?
    Or that it actually goes down the road?
    Didn’t Ford each one of those with the
    Torque Bomb 500 fragmentation grenade
    automatic transmission?

    I don’t want ya to get hit by chunks of
    gear housing, or the splash of hot oil.

    What about the latest Cadillac Escalade?
    It runs on cheap credit, and comes with a new
    drivetrain warranty guaranteed at least 3 years or
    until the next stock market crash, whichever
    comes first!

  17. DerHundistlos on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 1:47 am 

    Racer X, that explains why I bought her for $500. No worries about car jackings or break-ins. Pampered vehicles stay far away from me in the parking lot out of fear I will inflict door dings. And it’s paid for!!!!!

    Caddy Escalade, Suburban, and Hummer….can’t think of a better investment.

  18. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 2:34 am 

    LOL good stuff, Happy Motoring !!

  19. Cloggie on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 2:34 am 

    Caddy Escalade, Suburban, and Hummer….can’t think of a better investment.

    That’s because you never heard from the fabulous car from my home town Eindhoven in Holland, the DAF:

    For reasons mysterious to me, this giant didn’t conquer the world and went out of business. It was the Dutch answer to the East-German Trabant.
    (Greetings out (of) Eindhoven)

    DAF was more successful with trucks, but nevertheless was take o… um merged with US company Paccar.

    DAF = van Doorne Automobiel Fabriek

  20. Midnight Oil on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 7:47 am 

    I’ll just continue to drive my 1994 Geo Metro that meets the new standards…so there!

  21. Brazilian guy on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 8:57 am 

    If a more expensive car can return 8.5 times the price difference in fuel savings, people will choose do buy it, no need for a law about it.
    … because people are SMART, correct ???

  22. JuanP on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 10:22 am 

    Midnight, My wife and I owned two Suzuki Swifts for more than ten years. They were the Japanese Geo Metros. They were amazing; made in Japan but I could repair them using American and Mexican parts. We sold them and replaced them with a Mercedes Benz SUV because we went from two cars to one and we needed something bigger and more ostentatious to tow our sailboat and work in real estate. We miss them so much. They were the best cars we ever owned. They don’t make cars like that today; if they did I’d buy one in a jiffy. Hold on to yours for as long as you can.

  23. Cloggie on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 12:02 pm 

    Midnight, My wife and I owned two Suzuki Swifts for more than ten years.

    In Holland that car is mockingly known as the “car for republicans”, i.e. anti-monarchists. Here is the reason why:

    Assassination attempt against queen Beatrix, but narrowly missed, but nevertheless killed 14 people:

    (the queen is in the bus at 0:02)

  24. peakyeast on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 3:04 pm 

    “Following his earlier experiments with rats, in 1972 Calhoun would later create his “Mortality-Inhibiting Environment for Mice”: a 101-inch square cage for mice with food and water replenished to support any increase in population,[9] which took his experimental approach to its limits. In his most famous experiment in the series, “Universe 25″, population peaked at 2,200 mice and thereafter exhibited a variety of abnormal, often destructive behaviors. By the 600th day, the population was on its way to extinction.[7]”

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