Administration's 'own numbers don't even support' fuel-efficiency proposal

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The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would be freezing Obama-era guidelines that required USA vehicles to become significantly more fuel efficient.

"We are going to remain committed to improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and working toward an all-electric future, but we believe it is in everybody's best interest to have one national set of requirement that comprehends the new technologies", she said. But any plans to freeze clean air rules and strip California of its power to set its own rules is drawing fire from members of both parties.

"Millions of Americans are choosing cleaner vehicles, longer lives and lower fuel costs because of clean vehicle standards", said State Senator Ricardo Lara, who represents parts of North Long Beach.

'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'.

"The administration's proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump", said a joint statement from attorneys general from the states, including New York, Virginia and North Carolina. "Households don't have a choice in what they pay at the pump so they need fuel efficient choices at the dealership, whether it's a vehicle, truck or SUV". The government also said the proposal will save consumers $2,340 (£1,796 / €2,017) since automakers won't have to increase prices to offset the costs of building more efficient vehicles. The 10 other states and the District of Columbia that have adopted the tougher California guidelines would also be impacted by the White House move.

The Trump administration has moved to weaken U.S. vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal.

Under the Obama administration's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, new cars sold in the USA must average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025.

It's got 'everything to do with just trying to turn over the fleet. and get more clean and safe cars on the road, ' EPA assistant administrator Bill Wehrum said.

The new plan would freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels through the year 2025 and beyond.

Environmental groups are already expressing their outrage over the plan. It might even cause auto prices to stop increasing so rapidly.

"This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken", said Healey of MA, one of the attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia objecting to the change. He cautions that as the EPA provides more information about its new proposed standard, those calculations may change.

They also said the policy shift would lead to fewer highway deaths by enabling more consumers to afford new vehicles that are safer than those being traded in.

Besides, California - which is essentially now a foreign country - should not control the auto market and decide pollution and mileage standards for the rest of the country.

During an earnings conference call last week, General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra repeatedly emphasised the need for a single national standard on fuel economy.

The administration said that after cars reach the 2020 standard, additional gains are incremental and that the benefit to making roads safer outweighs any environmental risk.

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