Trump Administration Says It Will Freeze Current Fuel Economy Penalties, Go Back To Lower Fines

Trump Administration Pulls Back Fuel Economy Penalties

The Trump Administration recently announced it was pulling back from the $140-per-vehicle fine for missing new government-mandated fuel economy requirements, back to the original $55 fine which was established in the 1990s. The Obama-era policy penalty increase was aimed at lowering the overall fuel consumption and a lowering the carbon footprint for automakers. Now, the Trump administration said it was issuing final rules to suspend those penalties. At the time they went into effect, automakers protected the hike, saying it could add $1 billion in compliance costs to meet the new rule.

The Obama-era rule mandated a full-fleet efficiency average requirement of 46.7 mpg by 2026. The Trump administration is seeking to lower the full fleet efficiency average to a 37 mpg rule. Some automakers welcome the decision, while environmental groups stress the mandate should remain in place.

Industry insiders and environmental organizations worry that the fine will not curtail automakers from polluting and may slow the development of more efficient vehicles.
[Photo: Volkswagen]

According to a Reuters report as posted in the New York Times: “Environmental groups urge the administration to retain the increase, noting U.S. fuel economy fines have lost nearly 75% of their original value because the fines have only been increased once — from $5 to $5.50 in 1997 — in more than four decades.”

Some automakers welcomed the Trump administration’s decision to roll back the penalties. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles told Reuters it paid over $77 million dollars in fines for failing to meet the new fuel economy requirements. As a compromise, 17 automakers last month urged a “midway” approach between the Obama-era standards and the Trump administration’s most recent proposal.