The Trump administration is backing away from its proposal to roll back Obama-era rules that push automakers to make vehicles more fuel efficient, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The administration is now considering requiring a 1.5 percent increase in fuel efficiency, compared with the 5 percent annual called for under the Obama rules, according to the Journal, which cited people familiar with the process.
A key component of former President Obama's environmental legacy was focused on strengthening fuel emissions standards for cars to 54.5 mpg by 2026. But the rollback first proposed by the Trump administration in 2018, which an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis said would increase petroleum consumption by 500,000 barrels a day, would freeze the average fuel economy at the current 37 mpg level.
That proposal ignited a battle with California and created a rift in the auto industry. In July, California signed a deal with several automakers that favor keeping the certainty of the Obama-era regulations.
But earlier this week, other major automakers announced they would side with the Trump administration in a related suit challenging changes to federal fuel economy standards.
When reached for comment, EPA spokesman Michael Abboud did not provide details about the fuel efficiency plans but instead said the administration “is focusing on finalizing" a separate tailpipe rule that "will deliver one national standard to the American auto market.”
Trump tweeted in September that he was revoking the waiver California relies on to set tougher emissions standards for vehicles — something his administration has argued creates confusion for automakers who must make cars to meet two different standards.
California and 23 other states have already sued over that decision, arguing the Clean Air Act allows states to demand stricter emissions standards when needed.
Updated at 7:05 p.m.