Despite automakers’ concerns that fuel economy standards are neither achievable nor cost-effective, the EPA has decided to keep emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 cars and light trucks.
The agency today finalized rules that it says will result in fleetwide average fuel economy sticker values of 36 miles a gallon by the model year 2025, 10 miles a gallon higher than the current fleet average. Automakers can meet the standards at lower costs than originally predicted, said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.
“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input,” McCarthy said. “At every step in the process the analysis has shown that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks remain affordable and effective through 2025, and will save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump while protecting our health and the environment.”
The announcement also concludes the mid-term review of the Obama administration’ car pollution standards, which have required automakers to improve cars’ fuel efficiency and reduce emissions every year beginning with model year 2012. To get the industry to agree to the standards in 2011, the administration agreed to conduct a mid-term review.
Both actions — the finalized standards and the end of the mid-term review — happened earlier than expected. The final determination was due by April 2018. Automakers have accused the EPA of rushing the process in a political move to push the rules through before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20.
In late November the EPA announced its intent to leave the fuel economy rules intact.
At the time, Ford CEO Mark Fields, in an interview with Bloomberg, accused the EPA or playing politics and said Ford plans to lobby Trump to soften the rules, which, he says, will hurt profits by forcing automakers to build more electric vehicles than are warranted by customer demand.
“What happened was through eleventh-hour politics, it short-circuited a data-driven development of regulations,” Fields said.
In a statement coordinated by Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a project of sustainable business advocacy group Ceres, dozens of businesses including Nike, Ikea and General Mills, said they supported the EPA’s decision to stay the course on fuel economy targets.
“Given its size and connections to so many other sectors, the health of the auto industry has a significant impact on the broader economy,” the businesses wrote in a letter to McCarthy. “As successful American businesses, we know the importance of recognizing and seizing opportunities,” they continued. “We support staying the course on the standards because they represent an important opportunity to strengthen our economy, save consumers and businesses money, enhance the competitiveness of the American auto industry, and mitigate climate risk.”