EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says emissions goals for cars and light trucks set by the Obama administration are too aggressive and need to be revised.
The EPA announced the move in a statement Monday afternoon, saying “in light of recent data, the current standards” – set by the Obama administration in 2012 – “are not appropriate and should be revised.”
“The Obama administration's determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement. He said the previous administration cut the evaluation process short “with politically charged expediency” and set the standards too high by making assumptions “that didn’t comport with reality.”
In 2012, the Obama administration announced plans to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon in cars and light duty trucks by model year 2025. In January 2017, then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy affirmed the decision by signing off on maintaining the current standards for MY 2022-2025 vehicles, citing consumer savings and a “wide range of technology pathways available” to auto manufacturers to meet the standards.
Pruitt also announced the start of a rulemaking process to accept comment on “more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.”
“EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford – while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars,” Pruitt added.
Biofuel groups appear eager to use the decision to push for higher blends of their fuels to be incorporated into the solution. Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said the previous administration “refused to acknowledge the inescapable link between tailpipe emissions and fuel.” He said ACE is now encouraged that Pruitt has opened the door for more information on the subject.
“Some might argue today’s decision means EPA will eventually relax GHG standards, allowing more gasoline use and tailpipe pollution, but not if the new standards pave the way for E25-30 high-octane fuel in future engines,” Jennings said. “Ethanol-enriched, high-octane fuel enables automakers to simultaneously reduce GHG emissions and improve fuel economy. We are confident E25-30 blends will be the most affordable way to thread that needle.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor offered similar comments, saying the group has provided “a wealth of data to show that midlevel ethanol blends can be used by automakers to produce smaller, more efficient engines that will help meet future vehicle standards.”