Trump administration backs off plan to freeze fuel-efficiency standards

The Trump administration is reconsidering a plan to roll back an Obama-era rule requiring automakers to make vehicles more fuel-efficient, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Instead of freezing tailpipe-emissions targets at 2019 levels, around 37 miles per gallon, the White House is weighing a 1.5 percent annual increase in fleetwide fuel efficiency, the Journal reported. Under the Obama administration, car companies would have had until 2026 to produce cars that reach a minimum of 50 miles per gallon — a regulation opposed by the Trump administration.

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The administration’s new number, expected to be announced by the end of the year, is likely to be challenged in court by California, which favors stricter regulations.

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It could also worsen a growing rift in the auto industry: On Monday, General Motors, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler sided with President Trump on emissions rules, breaking from Ford Motor, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW, which in July agreed to back a deal with California for stricter fuel standards.

Those companies’ decision to circumvent the White House angered the president (he tweeted that Henry Ford would be “very disappointed” in the decision)  and in September, the administration moved to revoke California’s authority to set its own standard.

TRUMP THANKS AUTOMAKERS FOR BACKING HIM IN TUSSLE OVER CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS RULE

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California and 23 other states sued the administration over that decision, arguing the White House unlawfully removed the state’s waiver, which was granted under the Clean Air Act.

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