WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump is expected announce a restart of a review of vehicle fuel efficiency rules sought by the auto industry at an event on Wednesday with the chief executives of U.S. automakers, according to two sources briefed on the matter.
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Trump is expected to visit Ypsilanti, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, to tout his administration's decision to revive a review of the feasibility of the 2022 through 2025 vehicle emissions rules, after the Obama administration moved in its final days to lock in the rules.
In addition to the chief executives of General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co (F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU), officials from Japanese and German automakers are also expected to attend. A White House official confirmed Trump plans to visit Michigan, but did not immediately confirm details.
Automakers have been pushing the Trump administration for months to reverse the Obama administration decision. The Environmental Protection Agency had until April 2018 to decide whether the standards were feasible under a "midterm review," but moved up its decision to a week before President Barack Obama left office in January.
Automakers argue the Obama era vehicle emissions rules, which would raise the fleet average fuel efficiency to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 from 27.5 mpg in 2010, will impose significant costs and are out of step with consumer preferences. They argue they need more flexibility to meet the rules amid low gas prices.
Environmentalists, who favor the standards, say they will reduce fuel costs and greenhouse gases and have vowed to sue if the Trump administration weakens them.
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Trade groups representing automakers, including GM, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp, have asked the EPA to withdraw the determination finalizing the rules, which stem from a 2011 deal the industry reached with the U.S. government.
The Obama administration said in 2011 the changes would boost fuel efficiency to a fleetwide average of 54.5 mpg, save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles and cost the auto industry about $200 billion over 13 years.
In July, the EPA estimated the fleet would average only 50.8-52.6 mpg in 2025 under the rules because Americans were buying more SUVs and trucks and fewer cars.