NHTSA To Offer Recommendations on Changing Fuel Economy Rules in Middle of Violent Regulatory Argument
When Donald Trump was elected president, it seemed that the Obama-administration EPA scrambled to pass what rulings they could ahead of the predictably regulation-averse (particularly when it comes to carbon and fuel efficiency regulations, with the appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to the head position at the EPA) Trump administration’s ascension to control. One of the most controversial, at least to the automotive market, was strict, rising fuel efficiency requirements, or the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, which were pushed through at the last minute.
Surprising nobody, one of the first things Pruitt did upon taking office was follow President Trump’s orders to roll back the fuel efficiency standard determination (most likely with a smile on his face and song in his heart, given his long-standing criticism of emissions regulations).
However, that just meant that the final decision was being reopened, and although environmental groups saw this as a near-certain sign that the regulations were a thin, wispy tree against the heavy, sharp ax of Trump’s deregulation policies, the final determination had not been made.
With that in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government body which makes up half of the nation’s fuel economy regulation set, has announced that it will be ready to release its proposal for revising CAFE levels for model years 2022-2025 on March 30th.
The outcomes of the NHTSA’s review comes with high tension in the regulatory arena, as in one corner the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt’s EPA are raucously calling for a reduction in requirements, while in the other, the California Air Resources Board, auto parts suppliers, and environmental and consumer advocate groups are clamoring (although probably without much hope) for the regulations to stay where they were put.
Sitting somewhat worriedly in the middle of the chaos are the automakers themselves, who are on the one hand in favor of more lax regulations which would save money, but on the other hand have already invested quite heavily in fuel-efficiency-boosting technology and would definitely not benefit from a split in regulations between California and the states which follow its lead (the largest auto market in the US) and the rest of the country, which the state has promised would be the result of lowered regulations.
We will just have to see what happens when the recommendations are issued at the end of March.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the NHTSA still doesn’t have a head administrator, one year into the Trump administration.