Regulation rollbacks put automakers in flux



April 2, 2018 - 11:00 PM

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during a June 2, 2017, briefing. Molly Riley/Sipa USA/TNS

President Trump came into office promising to roll back rules designed to save energy and cut planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions, including landmark regulations demanding better fuel economy from cars and trucks sold in the United States. Now, a year after federal officials began reviewing Obama-era car and truck rules, The Post’s Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report that the Trump administration’s anti-regulation zeal may result in a far more aggressive rollback than even the auto industry wants.

The Obama rules demanded sharp increases in the overall fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States, to 38.3 miles per gallon by 2018 and to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for cars and light trucks, roughly double where average fuel economy stood in President Barack Obama’s first term. Critics objected that low oil prices and the enduring popularity of gasoline-hungry light trucks made those targets hard to reach. So the Obama administration softened the rules a tad, lowering the 2025 standard to 51.4 miles per gallon but keeping the rules essentially intact.

The Energy Information Agency projected last year that the regulations would cut light-duty vehicle gasoline consumption from 8.7 million barrels per day to 7.5 million in 2025, even as car and truck use increased by 5 percent. The Obama administration estimated that consumers would save far more in fuel than it would cost automakers to comply. The standards would substantially reduce the country’s carbon footprint, which is important in persuading other nations to continue cutting their greenhouse emissions, too.

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