President Donald Trump is being urged by many automaker CEOs to revisit a decision made by the Obama administration to lock in vehicle fuel efficiency rules through 2025.
Citing a letter sent last week, Reuters reports that the chief executives of General Motors, Ford Motor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, along with the top North American executives at Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Honda Motor, Hyundai Motor, Nissan Motor, and others have asked Trump to reverse the decision, warning that it could threaten thousands of jobs.
In January, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a determination that the landmark fuel efficiency rules instituted by then President Barack Obama should be locked in through 2025. As part of a 2012 regulation, the EPA had to decide by April 2018 whether or not to modify the 2022-2025 model year vehicle emission rules requiring average fleet-wide efficiency of more than 50 miles per gallon through a “midterm review.” In November, the agency moved up the timeline for proposing that automakers could meet the 2025 standards.
Almost immediately after Trump was elected, automakers appealed to the new president to review the rules, saying that they impose significant costs, as well as being out of step with consumer preferences. The automaker CEO letter cited by Reuters asked Trump to reopen the midterm review “without prejudging the outcome,” in addition to praising Trump’s “personal focus on steps to strengthen the economy in the United States and your commitment to jobs in our sector.” The letter also warned that the rules could “threaten future production levels, putting hundreds of thousands and perhaps as many as a million jobs at risk.”
On Sunday, Gloria Bergquist, a spokesperson for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said automakers are “seeking a restoration of the process — that’s all. This is a reset.”
However, environmentalists believe that the rules are working and shouldn’t be changed. Luke Tonachel of the Natural Resources Defense Council said lowering the standards would “cost consumers more, increase our dependence on oil and put Americans at greater risk from a changing climate.”
It’s clearly a controversial situation, with automakers and environmentalists strongly disagreeing about the potential merits and outcomes of the rules. Trump EPA nominee Scott Pruitt told a Senate panel that he will review the Obama administration’s decision.
In 2011, Obama announced an agreement with automakers to raise fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon, saying it would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles, but cost the auto industry approximately $200 billion over 13 years. In July, the EPA said that because Americans were buying fewer cars and more SUVs and trucks, it estimated the fleet will average 50.8 mpg to 52.6 mpg in 2025.