The proposal released by the EPA and Department of Transportation includes a range of options for the public to comment on, but the administration favors freezing fuel economy standards at the 2020 level - roughly 35 mpg - saying it will lower the purchase price of many new vehicles by an average of $2,300.
Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say. Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said consumers could save between $3,200 per auto and $4,800 per truck over the life of the vehicle under that standard, and that they would save even more if gas prices go up. In addition, it plans to revoke a waiver for California that allows it to enact its own vehicle regulations for greenhouse gas emissions. It met its 2020 goals four years early, but hitting the next target will be much harder without cleaner vehicles.
The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts is in line with President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to abandon the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed to take steps to mitigate global warming.
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards require automakers' cars to average about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
"More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to USA roads", said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
The US government on Thursday proposed weakening fuel efficiency requirements for cars and trucks, referred to as the clean auto rule.
The administration also wants to limit states' rights to make their own standards, to which California and several other states have already said, We'll see you in court.
Gina McCarthy, thes EPA administrator under Obama, said the reversal of these standards "run contrary to sound science and the law". "The administration's announcement that it will relax future fuel economy (CAFE) standards is good news for consumers", Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment, said in a statement. The administration's assertion that lighter, more fuel efficient cars are more risky has been disputed by transport experts.
Months after they pre-emptively sued to block anticipated efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back mileage regulations, Democratic attorneys general vowed to continue their fight in the courts.
"We come from a free-market perspective, where we believe consumers should have a choice in their vehicles, and they can weigh all the appropriate factors - be it size, horsepower, utility or fuel economy", Derrick Morgan, senior vice president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade group, which advocated for the changes in a meeting at the White House in June, told Bloomberg.
However, his administration's report on Thursday projects that relaxing mileage standards would cost 60,000 auto jobs by 2030.
"Californians have a right to breathe clean air, and we're not giving that up to President Trump without a fight", Feinstein said.
The states that have adopted California's emission rules together make up about one third of the US auto market.
Now they're only about one-third, with less-efficient trucks and SUVS making up the rest.