NHTSA sets out next steps on fuel economy standards

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Trump administration has sketched out a timeline for crafting new fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks.

The Transportation Department lists some dates for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s corporate average fuel economy standards in its latest regulatory report. NHTSA is required by law to create de novo rules for model years 2022 to 2025 by April 2020.

President Trump is reconsidering U.S. EPA’s clean car rules for model years 2021 to 2025. The new targets will be subject to intense and complicated negotiations between California and the White House. No agreement has yet been reached, raising the possibility of a lengthy legal battle (Climatewire, Sept. 27).

NHTSA and EPA collaborate on the tailpipe rules, and the Trump administration has sought to make certain that NHTSA — an agency whose mission is safety and, secondarily, energy security, rather than environmental protection — takes the lead spot in drafting new rules.

The Transportation Department’s Office of the Secretary will take up the regulation in two weeks and send it to the White House for approval by late December, according to the schedule published on the agency’s website. The agency is aiming to have the rule cleared by the Office of Management and Budget and published by late March.

EPA does not have a detailed timeline for its version of the standards. The agency must decide by April 2018 whether it wants to change the rules for model years 2021 to 2025. Existing rules on the books would bring the real-world average fleetwide fuel efficiency of passenger cars and trucks to around 36 mpg by 2025.