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Trump announces review of tougher U.S. fuel-economy requirements

U.S. President Donald Trump moved Wednesday to reinstate a midterm review of tougher U.S. vehicle fuel economy standards that were brought in during the Obama administration.

Automakers have pushed for new president to ease standards brought in during Obama administration

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the American Center of Mobility, in Ypsilanti Township, Mich., on Wednesday. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump moved Wednesday to reinstate a midterm review of tougher U.S. vehicle fuel economy standards that were brought in during the Obama administration.

Trump made the announcement at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Mich., the site of a former Second World War bomber plant that is being turned into an automotive testing and product development facility.

"We want to be the car capital of the world again," Trump told the audience gathered for the announcement.

Under former president Barack Obama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proclaimed a rule for cars and trucks requiring a fleet-wide average of 36 miles per US gallon in real-world driving by 2025. That fuel consumption figure equates to just over 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

Trump's announcement takes aim at the Obama administration's January decision to lock in strict gas mileage requirements for cars and light trucks, ending a review process before he left the White House.
 
In 2012, the Obama administration set fuel-economy regulations for model years 2017 to 2025 and agreed to complete a midterm evaluation by 2018. Seven days before Obama left office, the EPA decided to keep the tough requirements it had set in place for model years 2022 to 2025.  

Trump's review could roll back the fuel economy emissions targets, which were a key piece of former president Barack Obama's strategy to combat global warming. (Associated Press)

The auto industry said the decision had been rushed through to beat the change in administrations. 

The EPA confirmed Wednesday it will make a decision by April 2018 on whether the fuel consumption requirements for the 2022 to 2025 model years are feasible.

"These standards are costly for automakers and the American people," said EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement. 

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a major U.S. industry group, backed Trump's action.

"The Trump administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and co-ordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," Mitch Bainwol, the president and CEO of the group, said in a statement.

Environmental groups panned Trump's move.

"This change makes no sense," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defence Council. "Mileage standards save consumers money at the gas pump, make Americans less dependent on oil, reduce carbon pollution and advance innovation."

Changes to U.S. fuel consumption requirements could result in matching changes in Canada. Back in 2012, Peter Kent, the environment minister in the Conservative government of the time, unveiled new rules aimed at cutting emissions and fuel consumption after the U.S. government finalized its standards.

At the time, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association said it supported the tougher fuel standards, stating that harmonization with the U.S. would allow companies to spread anticipated increased costs over a larger consumer base.

Speaking on CBC News Network,  Dale Marshall, national program manager at Environmental Defence, said it is quite likely that California and several others states will continue to adhere to the tougher fuel standards, which could diminish the possible effects of a rollback.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

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