The EPA’s Scott Pruitt has announced plans to roll back vehicle emission standards introduced under Obama, which he claims were “rushed”, “not appropriate”, and "too high".
The existing standards came into force in December 2016 and would have required vehicles for model years 2022 to 2025 to meet targets of 87.7 kilometers (54.5 miles) to the gallon (mpg), or 40 mpg in real-world driving – a policy that could have saved the US as much as 1.2 million barrels of gasoline per day by 2025, Ars Technica reports.
Instead, the EPA will work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write up new standards that will, undoubtedly, see that figure slashed. Pruitt is yet to divulge any details about what these new targets might be.
While the move has prompted heavy criticism from politicians and environmentalists, Pruitt can count on support from The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers. The organization has praised the move, which will save the industry billions of dollars.
Shortly after the EPA's announcement, the Alliance released a statement saying: "This was the right decision, and we support the Administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards.”
Both car manufacturers and the EPA have argued that the cost of the tech development required to push down emissions would be passed onto consumers purchasing cars, hitting the poorest the hardest.
Of course, this completely ignores the fact that owners of more fuel-efficient cars would benefit financially in the long run by paying less for gasoline, and brushes over the real beneficiaries of this new policy: the manufacturers themselves, who won't have to shell out on the development of more eco-friendly car parts.
Not everyone in the industry is convinced by the EPA's decision. The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association released a statement, saying "we do not support significant changes to the standards", adding "suppliers stand ready to fully participate in helping automakers meet the targets of EPA’s GHG emissions program where ever the new standards are set."
There has also been a lot of pushback from politicians across the country, particularly in the state of California, which has been allowed to set its own targets since the 1960s.
Governor Jerry Brown called it a "belated April Fools' Day trick".
And California General Xavier Becerra criticized the policy for threatening the state government's ability "to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money".
Meanwhile, Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, calls the decision "a politically motivated effort to weaken clean vehicle standards with no evidence or law" to back it up.
However, she also says it "changes nothing in California & the 12 other states with rules for #cleancars that reduce emissions & improve gas mileage – those rules remain in place".