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Why Is the EPA Easing Emissions Standards?

Apr 13 2018 Read 704 Times

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in America has announced it will relax emissions standards for cars produced between 2022 and 2025, citing concerns over the feasibility of existing proposals.

Legislation passed under the Obama administration would have required car manufacturers to produce models capable of achieving 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions by 2025, which is approximately 10 miles per gallon more than current rules require. After reviewing the policy, the EPA has announced it will ease those targets – though the exact details of their amendment are not yet clear.

The industry approves

Officially, the EPA has stated that Obama’s targets were too high to be realistically achievable and would have placed unreasonable demands on both the industry and the consumers who would seek to buy new cars. Predictably, the automotive industry has reacted favourably, seconding the claims that costs would have been driven skywards.

“This was the right decision, and we support the Administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards,” said Gloria Bergquist of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “We appreciate that the Administration is working to find a way to both increase fuel economy standards and keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans.”

Californian showdown

However, not everyone was as welcoming of the move. Critics have claimed that the move will short-change Americans in the long run, as it will mean it costs more to fill up their tanks. The environmental community has also been up in arms, with the state of California a particularly vocal opponent. California currently has pollution and emissions standards autonomy and is resistant to change, with several other states following its lead.

“We’re ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards and to fight the Administration’s war on our environment,” said Xavier Becerra, the attorney general for the Golden State. “California didn’t become the sixth-largest economy in the world by spectating.”

Par for the course for Trump administration

This is far from the first time Trump’s EPA has rolled back existing environmental laws. Earlier this year, the EPA announced a similar easing of emissions regulations with regards to power plants. Among other things, the existing regulations covered mercury emissions compliance for power and cement plants; a subtle tweak in the wording of the legislation means that major sources of pollution can have their status downgraded.

Additionally, Trump has also rescinded the Clean Power Plan, approved oil pipeline construction, reallowed mining waste to enter streams and rivers, given the green light to lead bullets in rural hunting and cut funding to the EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As a result, the latest relaxation of emissions standards should come as a surprise to no-one – but may have irreparable consequences for the environment all the same.

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