US environment watchdog to ease rules on carmakers
The US Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that a landmark Obama-era effort to cut vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions is too aggressive and agrees with carmakers that the standards should be revised, according to people familiar with the matter.
The agency has completed a draft decision outlining the rationale for easing fuel efficiency regulations for model-year 2022-2025 cars and light trucks, two sources said.
Bill Wehrum, chief of the agency's Office of Air and Radiation, plans to meet with environmental regulators in California next week to discuss the draft determination ahead of an April 1 deadline to make it public, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision hasn't been made public.
In an email, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman confirmed the agency has sent a draft of the decision on the standards to the White House's Office of Management and Budget and that the final determination will be signed by April 1. Bowman didn't describe the contents of the draft
The California Air Resources Board is troubled by reports of the EPA's decision, Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state regulator, said in a statement.
The agency hasn't seen the EPA's draft decision and has had no input in drafting the decision, Young said.
"California paved the way for a single national programme and is fully committed to maintaining it," Young added.
"This rumoured finding - if official - places that programme in jeopardy," he said.
"We feel strongly that weakening the programme will waste fuel, increase emissions, and cost consumers more money."
The EPA hasn't determined what the new tailpipe-emission standards should be, the sources said. However, the move is widely expected to result in weaker targets that will be easier for automakers to achieve as sales skew toward sport utility vehicles, US pick-ups and other light trucks.