Unnamed sources with in the current administration say president Trump will give US automakers some of what they want but will not immediately roll back future CAFE standards when he makes a speech in Ypsilanti, Michigan later today.
At issue is an action taken by the EPA just before the inauguration in January. Under the terms of an agreement between the EPA and the car companies made in 2011, the standard for corporate average fuel economy was supposed to rise to 54.5 mpg by 2025. A midterm review was scheduled to be completed by April 2018 to determine if that target was feasible.
Knowing full well that the incoming administration was going to gut the EPA and would be anxious to roll back CAFE standards across the board, the EPA decided to complete the midterm review 16 months early.
In doing so, the outgoing EPA made sure there was copious data and information on the record to support its finding that the proposed standard was in fact feasible. It lauded the car companies for exceeding the goals every year and found they were fully able to hit the 2025 target ahead of time.
For their part, the companies have been screaming that unless the standards are modified, they will drive up the price of cars, cause more than a million workers to be laid off, and force Americans to buy vehicles they don’t want. They might even be responsible for the sinking of the Titanic and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
What Trump will do is reinstate the April 2018 review date, giving the car companies another year to convince EPA administrator Scott Pruitt that the 2025 target is not feasible. The problem for the administration is that is must now govern, rather than just issue a blizzard of Tweets. In the arcane and mysterious world of the law, undoing an administrative finding requires proof that an agency has acted without any reasonable basis. The outgoing EPA did everything in its power to document the reasons for its action.
Many people have been anticipating a smackdown of the California Air Resources Board by the new administration, but the confidential source says that’s not going to happen, at least not yet. Mary Nichols, the head of CARB, said in a phone interview with Automotive News, “We’re not going to refuse to participate in the newly-reopened review process. We’ll be there and we’ll be active.”
But Nichols made it clear that the administration and the car companies should not expect California to abandon its core principles. “We have the technical and legal ability to run a program that recognizes where electrification of vehicles is headed,” she said. “We’re trying to put together a mix of incentives and regulations to move the entire industry in this direction. This is what we’re going to do.”
Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, sounded a conciliatory note. “My goal is to bring permanent peace between California, Michigan and the rest of the country and have everybody working together toward strong fuel economy standards,” Dingell said. “That was the beauty of the process that President Obama established and the agreement that was reached.”
Now we will see if Trump can actually govern, which involves taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders, instead of merely dictating by executive order like a tyrant on a gilded throne.
Source: Automotive News