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NHTSA Goes Against EPA, Delays CAFE Regulation Fee Increase

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Best Road Trip Destinations: Washington, D.C.

So, as the twilight hours of the Obama administration have been approaching, the story has seemed to be one of carmakers against government agencies. More specifically, these struggles mostly seemed to be with the EPA, who creates the standards (collectively called the CAFE standards) for emissions for automakers selling in the United States.

Most recently, the EPA finalized strong goals for cars through 2025 over the protests of automaker lobbyists who insisted that due to high US demand for SUVs, automakers can’t possibly meet the regulations, and that the EPA was rushing through the rule-making process to get it done before president-elect Trump (who seems to be against emissions regulations) takes office.

However, CAFE regulations aren’t just the purview of the EPA. The standards are a joint effort of the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the NHTSA has decided that a scheduled increase in fines for violations of CAFE standards would be delayed.

The penalty is currently at $5.50 for each 0.1 mpg of fleet-wide average fuel economy that fell below the standard, multiplied out by the number of vehicles in the fleet sold in that model year. The increase would have more than doubled that fine to $14. Now, that increase will not apply to 2018-model-year cars, but will be applied to 2019.

As explanation, the NHTSA said it had decided that automakers had generally completed the needed vehicle-design decisions needed to meet regulations through the 2018 model year, and so larger fines wouldn’t increase compliance or boost fuel economy.

The automaker lobbyist group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, was, of course, very happy with the decision, saying that it “welcomes the news that NHTSA has decided to delay the imposition of higher civil penalties for noncompliance in the CAFE program.”

Kelley Blue Book’s Jack Nerad also weighed in on the matter, saying that the decision “added a needed dose of reality” in a political climate that is being heavily influenced by the coming administration shift.

News Source: Green Car Reports