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Automaker lobby opposes Trump proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards

Automaker lobby opposes Trump proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards
© Greg Nash

One of the nation’s main automaker lobbying groups opposes the Trump administration’s proposal to stop increasing federal fuel efficiency standards.

Mitch Bainwol, head of the Auto Alliance, told lawmakers Tuesday that his group instead wants federal regulators in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement standards that increase each year.

“We’re hopeful that the slope continues to rise,” Bainwol told Rep. Jerry McNerneyGerlad (Jerry) Mark McNerneyTrump’s clean power plan replacement is exactly what the coal industry needs House Dems press FCC chairman for answers on false cyberattack claim Overnight Energy: Poll finds majority oppose Trump offshore drilling plan | Senators say Trump endorsed ethanol deal | Automaker group wants to keep increasing efficiency standards MORE (D-Calif.), when the congressman asked about reports that the Trump administration wants to freeze standards in 2020 and stop increasing them after that.

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“We’re in favor of year-over-year fuel efficiency [increases],” Bainwol continued at the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment.

The administration is planning soon to propose that the standards on car efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions enforced by the two agencies stop increasing in 2020, people familiar with the matter said.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on the plans last month.

The Auto Alliance, which represents 12 major automakers, agreed with the EPA’s ruling last month that the planned efficiency standards through model year 2025 are unattainable and should be reduced. Global Automakers, the other major automaker lobby, also agrees with the administration’s decision.

But while the industry wants regulators to reduce the pace of efficiency gains, companies still want to preserve an upward trajectory, Bainwol said.

“We support standards that increase year over year that also are consistent with marketplace realities,” he wrote in prepared remarks for the Tuesday hearing.

Bainwol stressed that any formal proposal to change the standards has not been made public, “so we don’t know whether they’re going to be eliminated or not.”

Environmentalists and Democrats want the EPA and NHTSA to keep the aggressive standards that the Obama administration put in place.

Seventeen Democratic states sued the EPA last week to try to overturn its official March finding that the rules should be revised.