President Trump opened the door Wednesday to rolling back fuel efficiency standards that were adopted during the Obama administration, a move that could lead to a legal fight with state regulators and environmental groups in the coming years.
In January, the Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed that automakers must achieve an average 54.4 mpg across their fleets by 2025. But Trump pledged Wednesday to review those standards in a speech at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Mich. He told auto plant workers there that his administration will ensure the regulations do not lead to job losses and factory closures.
“Were going to work on the [fuel] standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “We’re going to help the companies and they’re going to help you.”
The announcement does not change existing regulations, but Democrats and environmentalists fear it signals the administration’s desire to weaken rules they view as critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
They also worry the administration could eventually target an EPA waiver that allows California and a dozen other states to set stricter emissions standards than the federal government. Automakers will still be compelled to produce more fuel efficient cars so long as the regulations in California, the country’s largest car market, remain in place.
“Making this U-turn on fuel economy is the wrong way to go for our security, economy and environment,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement Wednesday. “Undoing the fuel economy standards will also lead to costly litigation and create needless uncertainty for the auto industry, threatening the economic and employment gains automakers have made in recent years.”