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West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

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Indiana Mayor Weighs In on Fuel-Economy Reversal

The EPA's rollback of fuel-efficiency standards is being called an attempt to revoke states' rights by some critics. (Pixabay)
The EPA's rollback of fuel-efficiency standards is being called an attempt to revoke states' rights by some critics. (Pixabay)
August 3, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – 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 proposal 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.

As the mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson supports the original standards and is concerned about the impact on the health of Gary residents, some of whom live in areas historically challenged by high emissions.

"There is a higher incidence of respiratory diseases - COPD, asthma - and so, it's really something that looks out not only for our environment but for the health of communities," she says.

The administration claims freezing the fuel standard will cut more than $2,000 off the price of new cars and result in fewer highway deaths, but opponents contest those findings. Although more fuel-efficient cars may cost more, consumers make it up through savings on gas by 2030.

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. But Freeman-Wilson and others say greater fuel efficiency was driving innovation - and car sales.

"Ironically, you have automakers who have said, 'Let's just stay the course,'" Freeman-Wilson notes. "And what we've seen is people moving toward not only more efficient but greener vehicles - vehicles that have reduced greenhouse gases."

Thursday's EPA proposal also is an attempt to revoke states' ability to set higher fuel-efficiency standards than the federal government, which many predict will ignite a legal battle. Fourteen states have their own higher standards in place.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN