Trump’s EPA Chief To Review Outgoing Agency Head’s Fuel Economy Ruling

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief will review Friday’s ruling by the agency to confirm fuel economy rules.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who will soon be EPA administrator if approved, responded to inquiries during a contentious Senate confirmation hearing. Legislators were upset by outgoing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s decision to lock in the federal guidelines and timetable through 2025.

“It merits review and I would review that,” Pruitt said during the hearing Wednesday.

Pruitt spoke to another controversial issue separately – California being able to enact its own clean vehicle rules through discussions in 2009 with the Obama administration. The potential EPA head wouldn’t commit to allowing California to keep rule that in place.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt.

Automakers have been lobbying the new administration to extend the midterm review process back to 2018, and to consider reducing the fuel economy and emissions regulations governing the policy. Automakers say that nearly doubling fleet-wide fuel efficiency will cost much more than consumers are showing signs of making profitable by their recent preference for less fuel-efficient trucks and SUVs.

The Obama administration had agreed with automakers in 2012 when the timeline was adopted to hold a review period through April 2018. The EPA was to consider modifying the 2022-2025 model year phase of the program, requiring average fleet-wide fuel efficiency in the low-50s for miles per gallon based on the regulation’s technical guidelines; that has been expected to play out in the upper 30s mpg on window sticker EPA mileage ratings in vehicles sold.

The Obama administration knew the regulation would cost the industry quite a bit – about $200 billion over 13 years. However, the White House saw the overall gains make up for it in motorists saving $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the fuel-efficient vehicles.

SEE ALSO:  EPA Finalizes 2025 Fuel Economy Rules Before Trump Enters Office

McCarthy said last week that her ruling was based on an extensive technical record. She said the rules are “feasible, practical and appropriate” and in “the best interests of the auto industry.”

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., on Wednesday said McCarthy’s ruling was an “extreme action” that “broke the deal” with automakers.

Legal experts have said it will take a good deal of effort for the Trump administration to undo the EPA’s decision. The process would be extensive, and may be dragged out by lawsuits from environmental groups challenging the Trump administration’s decision. There are other regulatory actions taken by the Obama administration during its final phase that would easier to address, legal experts have said, according to Automotive News.

Regarding the California emissions rule, newly elected California Democrat Senator Kamala Harris asked Pruitt if he would commit to upholding the allowance for the state to stay with its own regulatory structure.

Separately. California’s new Democrat Senator Kamala Harris asked Pruitt whether he would commit to upholding the California waiver. Pruitt did not say outright that he would uphold the waiver, which allows California to pursue its own emission standards that are more stringent than the federal rules. He hasn’t committed to supporting or blocking California’s rules, which are more stringent than the federal standards.

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