Fed regulator backs freeze of mpg rules after 2020

Ryan Beene
Bloomberg News
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U.S. auto regulators have recommended to the White House that fuel-economy requirements for cars and light trucks be frozen after model year 2020 and assert that California can’t set its own auto efficiency standards, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be a significant reduction in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards charted during the Obama administration.

The proposal, submitted Wednesday to the Office of Management and Budget, also contains alternatives to the post-2020 freeze, the person said.

Automakers have urged the Trump administration to strike a deal with California regulators. The carmakers worry that a lengthy fight over the standards between Washington and Sacramento would roil their businesses.

The proposal will now undergo a review by the White House before it is released publicly, which would kick off what’s likely to be a contentious debate over the future of a signature Obama-era environmental regulation.

NHTSA’s proposal for new CAFE standards was jointly developed with the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Until this process is complete, we will not provide comment on rules undergoing interagency review,” the EPA said in an email.

NHTSA representatives had no immediate comment. The details of the proposal were reported earlier by Reuters.

Freezing the standards at 37 miles per gallon starting in 2020 and challenging California’s authority were also key elements in a draft of NHTSA’s proposals that surfaced earlier this month.

That would be a significant reduction from the roughly 50-mpg fleet average by 2025 targeted by the current rules enacted by the Obama administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency will also propose revisions to its greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks alongside NHTSA’s fuel economy revisions.

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