Automakers’ open support for the Trump administration’s plans to relax fuel efficiency standards has drawn ire from Democratic leaders, environmentalists and consumer advocacy groups alike.
“The [Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient] vehicles rule, if finalized in its present form, will lead to vehicles that are neither safer, nor more affordable or fuel efficient,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said in a January 22 letter to the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency submitted proposed fuel efficiency guidelines for 2021-2026 model year vehicles, which would entail a 1.5% annual increase in gas mileage requirements through 2026. The proposal is far less stringent than the Obama administration’s previous 5.0% annual increase.
Carper said that though Trump’s draft plan would lower vehicle prices by roughly $1,000, it would also result in a $1,400 increase in fuel costs per consumer.
Some automakers told Reuters that they expected the Trump administration to implement the proposals drafted by the NHTSA and EPA. However, aides to the Trump administration said the roughly 2,000 page proposal went through substantial revisions.
In response, Consumer Reports sent a petition urging automakers to back off their support for Trump’s relaxed fuel efficiency standards. That petition thus far has 75,000 signatures.
Initially, the Trump administration had planned to freeze increases altogether in August 2018, which would have resulted in the average fuel efficiency of 37 miles per gallon by 2026. The Obama administration’s requirements would have set that number at 46.7 mpg. The initial proposal had not been finalized.