US environment agency aims to reverse fuel emissions controls

3 Apr 18

A US government environment agency has called for fuel economy and emission standards for cars and light trucks, set by the Obama administration, to be revised.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s statement said on Monday that “in light of recent data”, the increasing stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards planned for 2022 to 2025 were “not appropriate” and should be revised.

This could potentially start a court battle with environmental groups and states that want tighter controls.

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), a policy group, said the current fuel standards were the best tool available for curbing the oil demand. Failing to use them would make the US economy more vulnerable to price shocks and would reduce the amount of oil available for export. 

The EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the Obama administration had “made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality” and set the standards too high.

He added: “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country.”

He also pledged to impose a single national standard for emissions.

This could potentially start a legal battle with the state of California, which has the right under the 1970 Clean Air Act to set its own pollution limits.

Revising the standards could also have significant impact on US oil consumption.

SAFE said that if the standards were frozen so that they were no tighter in 2025 than in 2021, oil consumption in the US could be as much as 1.5m barrels a day higher than if the Obama-era plan had remained in place, the Financial Times reported.

But other estimates of the impact have been found to be much lower.

The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia university suggested that if the increases in standards were cancelled, the effect would raise consumption by about 200,000 barrels a day by 2025.

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