The Trump administration is taking steps to weaken Obama regulations designed to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks. The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration work together to establish guidelines that automakers must adhere to in the future – automakers typically have ten years to comply. The Obama administration had proposed increasing fuel efficiency standards gradually but the Trump administration began the process of reviewing and even replacing some of the standards.
The review process opens the door for big oil and automaker lobbyists to influence the standards.
“In order to keep our air clean and our climate safe, we need to put clean car standards in the fast lane,” argues the Sierra Club’s Andrew Linhardt. “Even hinting at freezing these popular standards is a bad idea.”
For decades the U.S. was dependent on foreign oil partly because so many Americans drove inefficient cars. This dependency factored decisively in geopolitical decisions the U.S. made – including the first Gulf War. While renewable energy sources and further development of domestic fossil fuels also contributed, more fuel efficient vehicles on American highways has helped significantly and has enjoyed some bipartisan support in Congress.
While he may make his friends in big oil happy by relaxing fuel efficiency standards, Donald Trump is squandering a further opportunity to increase U.S. energy independence. In short, he is trading quick financial gains for a few wealthy Americans in exchange for less stability for the entire nation.