During the eight years of the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenged automakers to meet increasingly tougher fuel economy standards. Those standards target a doubling of the fuel economy standards to 50 miles per gallon. And with President Donald Trump in the White House, the group would need a veto-proof majority to prevent the changes from going forward, should they actually receive and win a floor vote.
California has had the authority under the half-century-old Clean Air Act to set its own mileage standards to combat its chronic smog problem.
As auto manufacturers boosted fuel economy across their fleets, incremental improvements have become more costly and complicated while returns have diminished, the agencies say. The state, and others that have adopted the standard, have vowed to fight in court.
The Natural Resources Council of ME said the changes will result in more harmful pollutants drifting into ME - which already has among the nation's highest asthma rates - and "adds insult to injury by also eliminating states' rights to set our own clean auto standards".
And one of the best things that we can do as a nation to help make sure that we have clean air and a safe planet is to make sure that we maintain fuel efficiency standards.
States that joined the lawsuit said the change would end up costing more money at the pump because vehicles won't go as far on a gallon of gas, and more misery for those suffering pollution-exacerbated maladies such as asthma.
It also wants to stop states such as California being able to set their own standards. "We urge California and the federal government to find a common sense solution that sets continued increases in vehicle efficiency standards while also meeting the needs of America's drivers". Many independent experts are skeptical of these claims.
The Trump proposal would freeze standards at 2020 levels when vehicles will be required to hit an average of 30 miles per gallon (48 kilometers per gallon) in real-world driving. "The Trump administration has chose to force America's drivers to spend more at the gas pump, burn millions more barrels of oil, and put us on a path to greater harm from climate change".
Some Republican lawmakers supported the mileage freeze, but environmental groups and many states assailed it.
The administration also projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind spot warning. He cautions that as the EPA provides more information about its new proposed standard, those calculations may change.
The proposal, called the "Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks", marks Andrew Wheeler's first high-profile rollback as acting EPA chief.
At the same time, it plans to block California from putting its own mileage standards into place.
"The National Auto Dealers Association estimates the federal standards demanded by California will add $3,000 to the cost of new motor vehicles by 2025, potentially pricing millions of low-income households out of the market for new cars", Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), said in astatement.
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