Following Trump, bills would kill CAFE standards, research

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

House Republicans have reintroduced bills in recent days taking aim at the government’s clean car standards and research programs.

The bills, although not new, follow moves by the White House to ease the rules and slash funding for the development of vehicle technology.

Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) is pushing H.R. 1593 to eliminate the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. He first floated the bill in 2013 and is reintroducing it to reflect “renewed interest” from the administration, an aide said.

President Trump announced last week he would reopen a review of the latest CAFE mandates following automaker requests, opening the door to weaker rules (Climatewire, March 15).

Neither automakers nor the administration have called for significantly rolling back or eliminating the rules yet, but Trump has vowed to scrap climate rules he sees as harmful to the economy.

Congress is unlikely to pass a full repeal but could be called upon to help the administration meet long-standing automaker requests for tweaks to the CAFE program.

Current U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration benchmarks for cars and trucks would bring average fleetwide fuel efficiency to 50.8 mpg in 2025.

Separately, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) reintroduced a bill, H.R. 1623, to eliminate the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which provides loans to automakers manufacturing fuel-efficient technology. The White House proposed cutting the program in its spending blueprint released last week (Greenwire, March 16).

Conservative groups have long criticized the loans as wasteful, pointing to Fisker Inc.’s default on its loan in 2013.

The $25 billion program started in 2008 and has provided loans to Tesla Inc., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Fisker. It still has more than $16 billion in loan authority.