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New US Fuel Economy Rules Could Mean 5% More Daily Consumption Through 2029

New proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations could reduce “societal costs” in the US by as much as $500 billion through 2029 while increasing fuel consumption by roughly 500k barrels per day, according to an undated draft proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The proposed regulations would halt increases after 2020 in the minimum passenger vehicle fuel economy targets set by the federal government, mandating just a 37-mpg average from new vehicles from 2020 through 2026 instead of ramping up year-over-year to 47 mpg by 2026, as the Obama administration did.

Both those figures are according to the NHTSA’s dated fuel economy testing procedure, which tends to produce figures significantly higher than real-world fuel economy.

The draft was obtained and published by The New York Times, which warns that its contents could change before it’s officially published this week. The document’s preamble claims that the more relaxed fuel economy requirements “would reduce societal costs by about half a trillion dollars and reduce highway fatalities by up to a thousand lives annually.” Here, “societal costs” include the estimated effects of rising or falling air pollution, traffic accidents, road congestion, noise, and energy security threats, according to Bloomberg.

The two agencies concluded several years ago that the more restrictive fuel economy requirements put in place under the administration of Barack Obama would result in net benefits of about $98 billion. The agencies account for the discrepancy by saying: “the information available today is different from the information before the agencies in 2012, and even from the information considered by EPA in 2016 and early 2017.”

Dan Sperling of the California Air Resources Board disputes the draft’s claims regarding cost savings, saying: “All the government analyses that were done on the Obama standards in 2011 and 2012 showed that the savings at the gas pump for consumers were far greater than the extra cost of the technology.” The CARB itself could be reined in by the Trump administration, as previous reports indicated that the NHTSA would seek to end the organization’s ability to enforce its own fuel economy regulations in CARB member states.

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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