States going to court to challenge mileage rule

The Trump Administration unveiled on Thursday proposed rulemaking for rolling back Obama-era fuel economy standards for automakers, recommending the freezing of the mile-per-gallon standards for passenger cars and light trucks after model year 2020.

Auto jobs were not a major part of administration officials' case Thursday for the rollbacks.

The Trump administration on Thursday announced plans to freeze fuel efficiency requirements for the nation's cars and trucks through 2026 - a massive regulatory rollback likely to create potential upheaval in the nation's automotive market.

He said in a statement that the organization would challenge the administration's action "in the court of public opinion and the court of law". That rule - hammered out with states, the EPA, and auto makers - called for increasing fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for model years 2022 through 2025.

"It's a proposal that attacks the states' right to protect people from risky pollution, one that no one -- not the American public, not the states, not even most automakers -- really wants, and one that's being presented to the public under the false and easily discredited guise of improving public safety", the statement continued.

"With today's release of the administration's proposals, it's time for substantive negotiations to begin", Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement to the New York Times. Securing America's Future Energy, a group dedicated to reducing independence on oil, noted that vehicle prices have actually fallen 3 percent since 2013, even as overall inflation increased 8 percent.

"Current estimates indicate that the proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule would save over 500 billion dollars in societal costs and reduce highway fatalities by 12,700 lives (over the lifetimes of vehicles through [model year] 2029)", the agencies state.

The Obama administration had planned to keep toughening fuel requirements through 2026, saying those and other regulations on vehicles would save 40,000 lives annually through cleaner air.

The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.

"The fleet of new vehicles today is the most fuel efficient ever, and they have gotten safer every year", said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The affordability argument ignores thousands of dollars of saving in fuel costs for each driver over the life of a vehicle, opponents of the rollbacks said. He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California.

At a May meeting in the White House, auto firms appealed to Trump to tap the brakes on the administration's aggressive rollback plan. Currently California has a special waiver under the Clean Air Act to enact stricter rules than those at the federal level. In May, California and 16 other states filed a preemptive lawsuit arguing the rollback would be illegal.

©2018 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. "If you want to clean up your air, they throw federalism right out the window, I've had it with the so-called pro-business conservatives who ignore what actual industry leaders say is best for business".