Obama won’t weaken car emissions standards

Obama won’t weaken car emissions standards
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The Obama administration officially decided Friday not to change the vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards currently on the books.

The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep the current stringent rules in place through 2025 came despite pleas from automakers, who said that the standards will be unnecessarily expensive and increase consumer costs.

“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security MORE said in a statement.

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“At every step in the process the analysis has shown that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks remain affordable and effective through 2025, and will save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump while protecting our health and the environment.”

The ruling, just one week before President Obama leaves office, closes out a scheduled review of the standard that was written into the program in 2012 with the intent of evaluating whether the trajectory imagined then is still practical.

The EPA carries out the program jointly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), with the EPA responsible for greenhouse gas emissions limits and the DOT responsible for fuel economy standards. While the EPA worked with the DOT to come to its Friday conclusion, the decision is from the EPA, and the DOT is due to make its own determination later this year.

The final decision was not required until late this year, leading to accusations that the EPA rushed through the process in order to close out an opportunity for President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE’s administration to weaken the standards.

Trump’s staff could still act to weaken the rules, though it would have to open a new rulemaking process to do so.

Automakers had pushed the EPA to loosen the standards and are also lobbying Trump to take action on the matter when he comes into office.

Environmental and consumer advocates cheered the EPA’s Friday decision.

“In order to keep our air clean and our climate safe, we need to put fuel efficiency standards in the fast lane,” Michael Brune, director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Fortunately, together with the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's clean car standards are the most ambitious step the United States has ever taken to reduce carbon and other types of air pollution.”

“EPA made the right choice,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, energy policy counsel at Consumers Union. “These standards will help consumers keep more of their hard earned money instead of wasting it at the gas pump.”