Trump administration lowers fuel efficiency standards

The new rules from the EPA and DOT lower the bar set previously by the Obama administration

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EPA logo in March 2017
EPA logo in March 2017
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Last Updated:
March 31, 2020 - 3:50pm

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The Trump administration on Tuesday announced new vehicle fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions standards that lower the bar set by 2012 Obama-era regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new regulation calls for automakers to deliver a 1.5 percent improvement per year in corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and CO2 emissions standards for model years 2021-2026, according to the EPA.

This marks a decrease from the 2012 standards that required approximately 5 percent improvements each year.

The rule applies to both passenger cars and light trucks according to the EPA.

"The majority of automakers are not meeting the 2012 standard without resorting to the use of credits," the EPA notes in its announcement.

According to the NHTSA, when auto manufacturers' produce vehicles that fail to satisfy CAFE standards they can utilize credits to make up for their shortfall.

"We are delivering on President Trump's promise to correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. "Our final rule puts in place a sensible one national program that strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry. This rule supports our economy, and the safety of American families."

Former President Barack Obama publicly criticized the move and urged people to vote later this year.

"We've seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial," Obama tweeted. "All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall."