On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that it would be freezing Obama-era fuel efficiency guidelines that required USA vehicles to become significantly more fuel efficient. "More realistic standards will promote a healthy economy by bringing newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to USA roads and we look forward to receiving input from the public".
The Obama-era rules also drove vehicle prices higher, since prior estimates fell short of what incremental improvements to fuel efficiency actually cost.
As auto manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say. That would allow more people to buy cars with enhanced safety features, the government said.
Thursday's rule-making proposal from the EPA and NHTSA also presents several other options for modifying the Obama targets, while recommending the proposed freeze starting in 2020, the most severe of the scenarios.
But the Trump administration is arguing its plan, which it dubbed Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule, or SAFE, would save lives, replacing current standards that officials claim drive up the cost of vehicles too much and create a safety hazard for motorists.
"For more than a decade, ME and the other states have used our rights under the Clean Air Act to limit tailpipe pollution beyond federal minimum requirements", Emmie Theberge, federal project director at NRCM, said in a statement.More news: Tesla's biggest net loss helps meet production target
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. And with President Donald Trump in the White House, the group would need a veto-proof majority to prevent the changes from going forward, should they actually receive and win a floor vote.
More than a dozen states follow California's standards, amounting to about 40 percent of the country's new-vehicle market.
The Natural Resources Defense Council said the administration is "driving our auto future in reverse".
Gina McCarthy, thes EPA administrator under Obama, said the reversal of these standards "run contrary to sound science and the law".
"There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026", Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.
But private transportation experts say there are so many factors involved that the 1,000-lives figure is questionable. The Trump administration's proposal instead freezes that figure at its 2020 level of 36.9 miles per gallon.
The Union of Concerned Scientists said the rollback is "completely unacceptable". "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of American drivers".
All of this could be somewhat mitigated if California can set stronger standards; at the moment, the state and federal standard are the same. They are gearing up for a legal and political battle, particularly over the California waiver.