The Environmental Protection Agency set lofty emissions standards for the 2025 model year with studies and analysis underway to see if the targets were achievable. A final decision on those targets isn’t due until April 2018, but the EPA didn’t need that long. The group just announced that they’re sticking with the original requirements.
The corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) target for automakers is jumping to 54.5 mpg by 2025, which will be nearly double what it is today. The EPA says this will be good for the environment by reducing greenhouse gasses and good for the economy by reducing fuel costs.
The official EPA statement goes on to say that not only will it be good for the environment and save money, but that it isn’t going to be difficult for automakers to achieve. Thanks to innovation over the last few years, cars are becoming compliant with current standards more quickly than expected and already exceeding today’s requirements.
It’s unlikely anything will change between now and the April 2018 deadline as far as the EPA is concerned, but they have a good reason for making their position known early. There’s concern that once Obama leaves office and Trump takes his place, the focus on improved fuel economy might not get the same attention it receives today.
President-elect Trump is critical of the idea that climate change is being caused by man-made emissions and Myron Ebell, his pick to lead his EPA transition team, supports that point of view. Ebell is currently Director at the Center for Energy and Environment, which is a group that challenges the current global warming status quo.
The CAFE standards won’t be final until April 2018, despite the EPA’s early announcement, so there’s plenty of time for the Trump administration to try and have them changed.
But it won’t be easy. Since the EPA has made its recommendation, any proposed change could be seen as a step backward. No one wants a more polluted environment, no matter how you feel about what’s causing global warming, so it’ll be hard to argue against the proposed CAFE standards.
The EPA’s early decision is about as political a move as they come. It’s an effort to sidestep the incoming administration and keep the work the work of President Obama from being undone. Whether that’s enough to keep the standards unchallenged for the first 15 months of Trump’s presidency is something we won’t know until after he takes office in January.