The Trump administration is signaling that it could increase fuel economy standards, possibly compromising from its push to freeze them at 2020 levelsBMW, Volkswagen and Honda, siding with California. Most other automakers went with Trump.
When the Trump administration released its proposed “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule" in August of 2018, it was panned by environmental groups who said the calculations were flawed.
Even the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, mainly appointed by Trump, questioned the rationale in a draft report late last year. “There are significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis of the proposed rule,” the board wrote.
The administration’s preferred option to Obama-era fuel efficiency standards was a freeze at 2020 levels, which it contended would save 12,700 lives from car crashes during the life of new vehicles through model year 2029. The logic was that relaxed fuel mileage standards would cut the cost of vehicles, making them more affordable and increasing sales. Since new vehicles are safer, lives would be saved.
In 2018, EPA staffers privately challenged the rationale for the freeze, saying the proposal would actually increase U.S. highway deaths.
In an email, senior EPA staffers told the White House that it would slightly increase highway deaths, by 17 annually.