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Automakers Crying Foul on Efficiency Rules May Catch a Break With New Senate Bill

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Most people realize that a car’s fuel efficiency, like most other aspects of a vehicle, is subject to government regulations. However, most people don’t realize that the extent of the fuel economy regulations are determined by a tag team of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The EPA’s rules have been the subject of much scrutiny in the past few months, as the new regime has set about picking apart the final ruling on the EPA’s emissions regulations for 2022-2025 that the previous administration quickly pushed through before President Trump took office.

However, not a lot of attention has fallen lately on the NHTSA’s CAFE regulations, which directly regulate fuel efficiency across automaker fleets, partly because the NHTSA has been holding back its decision on rules for 2022-2025. Now, a group of senators has introduced a bill that could ease things up a bit.

More specifically, the bill (S1273) would keep the planned rules as they are, but give automakers retroactive credit for the improvements in earlier model years, while also allowing them to transfer credits between cars and trucks. More simply put, automakers with highly efficient cars could provide credits to counter the low efficiency of high-selling “light-duty trucks” (which includes SUVs as well as pickups), a transfer that was not previously allowed under CAFE rules.

If it passes, the bill would come as a huge relief to automakers, who have complained that the current rules were too stringent due to the swiftly rising popularity of more fuel-hungry SUVs and trucks.

However, consumer and environmental groups swiftly condemned the bill, saying that it would stall fuel-saving technology development, leave families with gas-guzzling cars, would lead to hundreds of millions of barrels of extra oil being burned, and generally hurt both the environment and consumers.

News Source: Green Car Reports