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U.S. May OK Tougher Emission Limits After All

The Trump administration has signaled that it may not freeze U.S. emission and fuel economy standards at 2020 levels after all.

The Trump administration has signaled that it may not freeze U.S. emission and fuel economy standards at 2020 levels after all. Bloomberg News reports.

Instead, regulators could opt to continue to tighten the regulations, but not as dramatically as dictated by the Obama-era schedule currently in place for 2021-2025, says Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recommended easing the current timetable. Their proposal, which has not been made public, offers several options.

The one getting the most attention would simply freeze standards in 2020 and rescind the harsher regulations set to phase in over the following five years. Carmakers don’t object to meeting increasingly tougher standards, especially is they get more time to adopt them. They also would like more credit for technical improvements that currently are ignored during the certification process.

Most of all, manufacturers want to avoid the specter of meeting two sets of regulations: one dictated by the federal government and another implemented by California and the dozen other states that support its rules.

California, which has authority to set its own emission standards, has pledged to implement the Obama-era rules regardless of what federal regulators do. The Trump administration is finalizing an attempt to strip California of its rule-making power.

Wheeler says that plan is “certainly an option.” But he adds that no decision has been made to pursue it. In doing so, he offers the auto industry a glimmer of hope that the Trump administration and California might be able to resolve their regulatory differences.

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