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Panel Blasts Trump Plan to Freeze Emission Rules

A science advisor panel says the Trump administration would do the country more good by scrapping its plan to curb the tougher emission limits for cars currently due in 2021.
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The Trump administration would do the country more good by scrapping its plan to curb the tougher emission limits for cars currently due in 2021.

So says a panel of science advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency, the office that sets such rules. The group contends that EPA’s rollback plan is based on a deeply flawed analysis about how emission rules and fuel prices affect car sales and vehicle scrap rates.

What’s the Big Deal?

EPA during the Obama era set carbon dioxide emission limits for cars that would boost the calculated average fuel economy for new cars from 37 mpg in 2021 to about 50 mpg by 2025. Not surprisingly, environmentalists favor doing just that.

The Trump-era EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which actually sets fuel economy targets, have been determined to freeze the standards at the 37 mpg level. They argue that doing so will keep new-car prices lower, thereby hiking demand for cleaner and safer cars.

EPA and NHTSA have been formulating, polishing and reviewing their plan for months. The critique by EPA’s science advisory board was passed along to the agency in October but didn’t become public until this week. The board’s conclusion: The Obama rules “might provide a better outcome for society than the proposed (Trump) revision.”

Next Steps

The White House to date has been determined to reset or cancel a wide range of tougher environmental restrictions set during the Obama administration. That mission hasn’t changed.

But the Trump administration has signaled that it might agree to a moderate increase in fuel economy levels over the next five years. But the timing of a final decision, already pushed back from last fall to sometime this spring, hasn’t been announced.

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