Car lobby fails to put the brakes on mpg rules

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The group that lobbies for automakers in Washington tried unsuccessfully on Tuesday to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing stringent gas mileage rules before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

The EPA said last week it is moving to finalize new greenhouse gas emission rules that will require automakers to produce car and truck fleets averaging more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025; those rules originally were subject to review in 2018.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which lobbies for U.S. automakers, pushed for lawmakers to add language to block the EPA’s effort to a must-pass bill that will fund the federal government’s operations past Friday. A draft of the funding resolution that was released Tuesday evening makes no mention of the mpg rules, however.

The auto alliance’s proposed language would have blocked the EPA from using money in the so-called continuing resolution to finalize the emission rules for the model years 2022-25. The mpg rules for the 2017-21 model are already set in stone.

The auto alliance represents Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA. The group said the EPA has “unnecessarily politicized” the mid-term review of the emission standards that was to conclude in April 2018.

The EPA declined to comment on the bid to convince lawmakers to block the emission rules by the auto alliance. The agency has previously framed the decision to finalize the rules before Trump takes office as an effort to provide certainty about regulatory requirements to automakers.

The new emission standards began to take effect with the 2017 model year. They call for ramping up from the current fleet-wide average of about 34 miles per gallon for cars and trucks that were required in 2016 to an eventual goal of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The increase, which some automakers have said might be too ambitious, starts with a rise to an average of over 35 miles per gallon for the 2017 models that already are being rolled out.

Automakers have been pushing Trump to roll back mandates after he takes office in January.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing