The move could further pad the pockets of big oil and big auto and end up hurting U.S. consumers.
The U.S. Transportation Department has disclosed it may revise auto fuel efficiency standards from the 2021 model year. The move comes a year earlier than previously disclosed and is likely to result in lowering fuel emission standards through 2025.
In March, U.S. President Donald Trump had ordered a review of U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards from model year 2022 through 2025 which was earlier established with higher fuel-emission standards under the Obama administration.
In a notice published on Tuesday, U.S. regulators have stated they are preparing a new environmental impact statement which is likely to result in the freezing of 2021 standards through 2025, rather than raise fuel-emission standards every year.
A trade group by the name of The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers representing, Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and others, said in a statement the environmental review “must happen regardless of what future standards are.”
The group has argued that “facts need to drive public policy, including data on consumer sales, gas prices and costs of technology” in determining the final standards.
Rules framed by the Obama administration after negotiations with automakers in 2011, had targeted the doubling of average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
The move would have saved motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles but cost the auto industry about $200 billion over 13 years.
Under the Obama administration rules, rules for 2022-2025 model year must be finalized by April 2018.
The Trump administration has reopened those rules following a complaint by automakers saying the Obama administration did not properly conduct a review to ensure the rules are feasible.
Under federal law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must set “maximum feasible” Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements, while considering “technological feasibility, economic practicability… and the need of the United States to conserve energy.”
According to officials briefed on the matter at hand, the White House has recently invited automakers to attend meetings with officials to review the rules.
As per Andrew Linhardt of Sierra Club’s, freezing the fuel efficiency standards could “hurt the American people just to pad the pockets of big oil and auto executives.”
In its notice the NHTSA stated it will consider a number of options, including continuing the 2021 requirements through 2025, rather than requiring yearly increases.