One of the last regulatory acts of the outgoing Obama administration was to finalize a new set of fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks that would raise the required average fleet-wide fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
The standards were released on Friday the 13th, seven days before Donald Trump is to be sworn in as U.S. president.
Under a 2012 regulation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had 15 more months to decide whether to lock in the news Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standard, Reuters reports. But EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asserted that both her agency and the industry were ready to move ahead with the new standard, “in the best interests of the auto industry and public health and welfare.”
“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input,” McCarthy said.
The industry nonetheless bridled at the unexpected early move and promised to take it up with the incoming Trump administration—one heavily loaded with veteran fossil executives and lobbyists unsympathetic to greenhouse gas emission reductions.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include Ford, Toyota, and General Motors, is looking to work with regulators under the new management in Washington to “find a prudent compromise path forward that avoids an unnecessary and counterproductive regulatory collision,” said spokesperson Gloria Bergquist.
But Reuters, citing legal experts, asserted that “it will be more difficult for the Trump administration and Congress to undo the determination than to unwind other regulatory actions issued by the Obama administration during its final months in office.
Its assessment echoed other calculations that the fossil-friendly Republican will find it harder than anticipated to rip up the last-minute rule.
“The 2025 determination is not a new regulation,” Reuters explains. “So the EPA, under Trump, would likely have to go through an extensive process before withdrawing the determination, and could face lawsuits from environmental groups if they took that step.”