Friday, January 24, 2020
Consumer Reports: Leaked White House plan to slow progress on fuel economy standards will hurt consumers' health and finances (Michael Simkovic)
From Consumer Reports:
"A Trump administration plan to lower automotive mileage targets for future model years that could be approved in a matter of weeks would result in hundreds of dollars in [annual] added costs for consumers, according to a new U.S. Senate analysis. . . .
The proposed regulation, called the Safe Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule, will determine not only how much consumers pay for cars and fuel in the future but also how much carbon dioxide will be emitted by personal vehicles. Transportation (air travel as well as autos and trucks) is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., outstripping factories and all other sources.
The intent of creating future fuel-efficiency targets is to reduce greenhouse gases, but consumers also stand to gain if vehicles are more efficient because they will spend less money to fill up their gas tanks.
The Trump administration has argued that the previous targets for model years 2021-26, put in place under President Barack Obama, are too difficult for the auto industry to meet and would ultimately lead to higher vehicle prices, which in turn would reduce car sales and keep consumers in older, less safe cars.
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, manager of cars and energy policy at Consumer Reports, says the evidence suggests that automakers have more than enough affordable technology to meet the Obama targets. Since 2017, when the current fuel-economy improvement program began, vehicles have become safer and more reliable, as well as more efficient, she says.
According to the CR analysis, Consumers, under the Trump administration plan, would spend an average of about $3,200 more per vehicle on fuel over the lifetime of their vehicles. Cumulatively, all American consumers would lose about $300 billion, according to the CR analysis. . . .
The administration plan to lower fuel-economy targets has been challenged by California and other states that want to fight climate change and reduce air pollution.
The auto industry has been split on the Trump administration’s approach. Companies such as General Motors and Toyota have backed the federal government in a lawsuit that would change the rules so that California and other states cannot have their own clean-air rules. Ford, Honda, and two other automakers haven’t joined that suit and instead negotiated a deal with California to produce more efficient vehicles."
Jeff Plungis, Fuel Economy Rollback Plan Would Cost Consumers, Analysis Says, Consumer Reports, Jan. 23, 2020