The Trump administration on Thursday took the first step in reopening and potentially rolling back the Obama administration's decision to tighten fuel economy and emission standards for 2022-2025 model-year cars and light trucks.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation announced the review in a joint notice published in the Federal Register. The EPA also will take comments on whether new standards for model year 2021 vehicles would be appropriate.
"We are moving forward with an open and robust review of emissions standards, consistent with the timeframe provided in our regulations," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "We encourage the public to submit the best-available and most up-to-date information, so that we can get back on track with what the regulation actually requires of the agency."
In opening the comment period, the EPA is soliciting data and information that "can inform a final determination of the standards."
President Trump hit the reset button on the Obama administration's decision to move ahead on the more stringent vehicle rules after automobile manufacturers protested that the Obama EPA made the decision before a congressionally mandated 2017 midterm review of the vehicle rules. The review was meant to consider the road ahead for the vehicle program and adjust it if necessary.
"This requires EPA to determine, no later than April 1, 2018, whether the 2022-2025 standards determined by the previous administration are appropriate. If the agency believes that the final determination issued by the past administration is not realistic, it would submit a new proposal for public comment," the EPA said Thursday.
The auto industry has argued that low gasoline prices have weakened consumer demand for hybrid-electric cars and smaller fuel-efficient models. Purchases of more SUVs and light trucks that are less fuel-efficient mean manufacturers are having difficulty hitting the federal vehicle targets, and the industry thinks they should be adjusted.