House committee gets up to speed on fuel efficiency standards

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017

House lawmakers will meet tomorrow to take a closer look at fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions rules for motor vehicles.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittees on Environment and Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection will hold a joint hearing to get an update on corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, which set fuel efficiency targets for cars and light trucks.

The hearing comes as the Trump administration reconsiders U.S. EPA’s tailpipe benchmarks for model years 2021 to 2025 at the request of automakers.

The Obama-era standards were expected to bring real-world average fuel efficiency to around 36 mpg. But the industry has called them “inappropriate” amid soaring American demand for large, gas-guzzling trucks.

Automakers called on EPA to revisit the standards earlier this year. Industry has been lobbying the administration and Congress to lower targets and iron out differences between efficiency regulations set by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The review has drawn fire from many Democrats, who say weakening mandates would put a dent in U.S. efforts to fight climate change and clean up pollution on the roads.

Senate Democrats — led by Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Kamala Harris of California — penned a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week on the matter.

“We urge you not to weaken these vehicle emissions standards, and allow the auto industry to ensure its continued success and further its innovation while maintaining a standard that brings clear public health, climate, and consumer benefits,” they wrote.

“As you move to reevaluate the sound technical conclusions your agency reached last year in the mid-term evaluation, we expect you will consider the facts, the science, and the law, which all lead to the single conclusion that the standards are achievable.”