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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2018 


The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

Daily Newscasts

NC Tourism, Citizen Health Could Be Impacted by Fuel-Efficiency Roadblock

A decrease in fuel-efficiency progress could have a significant impact on cities such as Asheville with a high volume of traffic and large tourism economy. (SelenaNBH/flickr)
A decrease in fuel-efficiency progress could have a significant impact on cities such as Asheville with a high volume of traffic and large tourism economy. (SelenaNBH/flickr)
August 3, 2018

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a proposed rule that would put a freeze on fuel-economy standards to hold them to 2020 levels. This would roll back an Obama administration requirement to increase the fuel standard to 54 mpg by 2025.

Supporters of the move say the fuel standards were increased prematurely, but Brownie Newman, chair of the Buncombe County Commission and a longtime environmental advocate, says there's a lot at stake for North Carolina.

"The mountains of western North Carolina are part of our state that are really heavily dependent on tourism, so air quality is really important to this part of our country," he explains.

Supporters of weakening the fuel standards say they were increased prematurely. There's now a 60-day public comment period for the change. The new fuel-efficiency target would be 37 mpg by 2026.

Recent low gas prices have boosted sales of larger, less-fuel-efficient vehicles, which is a shift that many American automakers want to capitalize on. But industry analysts predict gas prices will be going up this year.

Dr. Georges Benjamin is the executive director of the American Public Health Association. He warns that air pollution generated by continued use of fossil fuel-burning cars comes at a cost to everyone's health and bottom line.

"We know that air pollution is a direct health hazard and not a theoretical one," he points out. "This proposal by the administration will result directly in more heart attacks, more asthma attacks, more sick kids and more spending out of our pockets for sick care."

Newman also is concerned about the impact on the health of his constituents.

"The issue of air quality also is one of the most important environmental factors that influence public health in the region for senior citizens and kids who have asthma and really the general population," he says.

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.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC