Trump Administration & California to Discuss Fuel Economy Issues

May 15, 2018

President Trump has directed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to commence discussions with California representatives on a single fuel economy standard for the country.

The announcement comes after President Trump met with key representatives from the auto industry last week, highlighting “[an] openness to a discussion with California on an expedited basis [regarding the fuel efficiency standards].”

Administrator Pruitt announced last month that EPA had determined the Obama-era fuel efficiency standards required revisions and that the Agency was considering revocation of California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that allows it to set more stringent standards for the “California car” than for vehicles in the rest of the country. Other states are allowed under the CAA to adopt California’s vehicle standards, and 12 states that account for more than a third of cars and trucks in the country currently do so.

California has filed suit against the federal government over the rollback of the fuel efficiency standards and is threatening further legal action.

A draft proposal from DOT and EPA reportedly recommends that the current fuel economy standard – that fleets average 30 miles per gallon – be maintained through 2025. The Obama-era federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks were set increase and mandate a companywide vehicle fuel economy average of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg), or its equivalent, by 2025.

According to reports, the auto industry does not necessarily support freezing the standards, but instead wants greater flexibility in setting and changing requirements moving forward depending upon consumer demand and technological advancements. Additionally, the auto industry is advocating for a uniform, nationwide standard.