YPSILANTI, Mich. — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the administration will re-examine federal requirements governing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, moving forcefully against Obama-era environmental regulations that Trump says are stifling economic growth.
Trump revealed his plans during a speech at an automotive testing centre near Detroit, where he also met with auto company executives and workers.
“This is going to be a new era for American jobs and job creation,” Trump said at a round-table meeting at the American Center for Mobility.
The EPA under Obama had promulgated a rule for cars and trucks requiring a fleet-wide average of 36 mpg in real-world driving by 2025.
Trump’s decision, while having no immediate effect, requires the Environmental Protection Agency to determine no later than April 2018 whether the 2022-25 standards established are appropriate. If the EPA determines they are not appropriate, the agency will submit a new proposal next year.
“My administration will work tirelessly to eliminate the industry-killing regulations, to lower the job-crushing taxes and to ensure a level playing field for all American companies and workers,” Trump said at the centre, which produced B-24 bombers during the Second World War and is being converted into an automotive testing and product development facility.
Trump’s announcement is expected to set the stage for weaker fuel efficiency standards as well as drawn-out legal battles with environmental groups and states such as California that adopted their own tough tailpipe standards for drivers.
“These standards are costly for automakers and the American people,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He promised a “thorough review” that will “help ensure this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment
California Gov. Jerry Brown accused Trump and Pruitt of trying to weaken auto-emission standards in what he called “an unconscionable gift to polluters.”
Brown and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced their states are intervening in a lawsuit challenging the EPA rule. New York is among more than a dozen, mostly Northeastern states that have adopted California standards.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — which represents a dozen major car manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota — praised Trump’s action. It said he was creating an opportunity for federal and state officials to “reach a thoughtful and co-ordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data.”
Environmental groups said Trump and his team appeared intent on easing gas-mileage requirements set by Obama.
“If they succeed we’ll pay more at the pump, depend more on oil from bad countries, drive up the trade deficit and pollute our kids’ atmosphere,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.
As a practical matter, Trump’s announcement will target the Obama administration’s January decision to lock in strict gas mileage requirements for cars and light trucks, ending a review process before the Democrat left office.