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EPA Makes a U-Turn on Fuel-Economy Rules

Fuel-economy standards passed in 2012 are estimated to create 2,800 jobs in Michigan by 2030 unless they're rolled back by the current administration. (Pixabay)
Fuel-economy standards passed in 2012 are estimated to create 2,800 jobs in Michigan by 2030 unless they're rolled back by the current administration. (Pixabay)
August 3, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Five years after industry, labor and policy groups gathered to create new clean-car rules, the EPA is now taking a U-turn.

On Thursday, the EPA announced a proposed rule that would freeze fuel-efficiency standards to hold them to 2020 levels. It rolls back an Obama-administration requirement to increase the fuel standard to 54 mpg by 2025.

The EPA contends the original standards were set too high, and some manufacturers have said they're bad for business. But, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor contends the rollback is a job-killer.

"We have many, many jobs in Michigan that depend on making these fuel-efficient vehicles, and this threatens, directly, those jobs," he says. "Not to mention the impact on the environment, of course, and not to mention the impact on the consumer."

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, while more efficient vehicles cost slightly more, the gas savings outweigh that by an average of more than $2,000 per Michigan household.

As the former director of the U.S. EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality during the Obama Administration, Margo Oge helped craft the standards, which she notes included input from industry labor and policy groups.

"We're turning a pretty rare win-win program that took us years under President Obama, thousands of hours, and now we're turning it into lose-lose for everyone but the oil industry," she says.

Supporters of lowering the emission standards also argue that competition is a better driver of fuel-economy innovation than government regulations. Rabhi disagrees.

"We have international competitors that are producing fuel-efficient vehicles that are very popular, and this is a way of encouraging us to stay competitive, not to mention there's a huge economy in Michigan around producing energy-efficient vehicles and parts for energy-efficient vehicles," he explains.

The tougher fuel-efficiency standards were estimated to increase Gross Domestic Product by up to $30 billion and create 650,000 full-time jobs by 2030, including 2,800 in Michigan.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI