Regulatory Commissars

Pruitt Rolls Back Obama-Era EPA Emissions Rules

The Trump administration returns to common sense when determining realistic fuel-efficiency standards.

Thomas Gallatin · Apr. 3, 2018

On Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the vehicle-emissions standards created during Barack Obama’s presidency would be cut as promised. In his statement Pruitt explained, “The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong. Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.” Recall that back in January 2017, just before Donald Trump took office, Obama’s EPA rushed a review of its new CAFE rules that had set the new fuel-efficiency standards at 54 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks to be met by model years 2022-2025.

Pruitt’s announcement was widely applauded by those in the automobile manufacturing business and by many conservative and libertarian groups. Predictably, however, Democrats and ecofascist groups decried the change. Sen. Dianne Feinstein tweeted, “The EPA is willfully ignoring the fact that these emission standards are working. Cars are becoming more fuel efficient and consumers are saving money at the pump.” And it appears likely that California will seek to challenge Pruitt’s decision to lower the emissions standards.

Yet it is leftists who are out of touch with reality on this issue. Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) noted, “CAFE’s lethal effects on vehicle crashworthiness were documented by analysts and a federal appeals court years ago. We hope that the Trump Administration will finally take account of those effects and start to liberalize this program.” Myron Eball, director of the CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, also praised the decision, stating, “EPA’s announcement is good news for consumers who care about safety, performance, and size, as well as fuel economy in the vehicles they drive. This is the first step in many years toward reducing government control over what kinds of cars people can choose to buy.”

This is indeed good news for American consumers, the economy and, yes, the environment. While it remains to be seen what the new emissions rules will be (the current standard is 38.3 miles per gallon), it will certainly be less dramatic and a more affordable and realistic standard. Obama’s climate change rationale was simple: He embraced the unproven theory of mankind’s activity being the primary cause of global temperature increases, which he then used as an excuse to enact greater government control over Americans’ lives. The fact is the free market has always been better than government fiat as a means for making products that are innovative, affordable and efficient.

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