Gas prices: Reducing fuel efficiency will be road to ruin
Published 7:03 am Tuesday, August 7, 2018
The Free Press of Mankato
Why it matters: Freezing fuel efficiency standards would raise gas prices, increase pollution and disrupt the auto industry.
A Trump administration plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards of automobiles will turn back progress that has been made in reducing gas prices, reducing greenhouse gases and will likely disrupt the auto industry.
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Part of the plan also calls for prohibiting states from setting their own standard — a clear swipe at states’ rights provided by the Constitution. California and other states already plan a legal battle against the proposal.
The Obama administration boosted fuel efficiency standards in negotiations with the auto industry in 2012, setting uniform standards that would make average fuel efficiency nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2026. The standards in total were estimated to save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, according to the EPA and NTSB.
The program at the time was estimated to lower the price of gasoline by $1 per gallon. That became a reality as average U.S. gas prices were at about $3.80 in 2012 and are approximately a dollar below that now.
Some 13 major auto companies, who make 90 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States, agreed with the new standards in 2012.
Many now are privately balking at the new proposal and worry the federal government will lose suits like those brought by California and other states because it will force them to make different cars for different states.
The Trump proposal would also boost profits of oil companies by increasing oil consumption by half a million barrels of oil per day.
Gas prices have been rising along with U.S. consumption of oil. U.S. average gasoline prices were about $2.25 in 2017 and have been steadily climbing to touch on the $3 per gallon mark recently.
While our consumption of oil has gone up about 150 million gallons per year, the Trump proposal would nearly double that increase.
The Trump administration says leaving the standards as is will cost consumers $2,300 more when they buy a new car. But analysis of the standards when first imposed showed a more modest $1,200 cost.
The current fuel standards also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, where the new standards would increase those emissions by 2030 to a level equal to building 30 new coal-fired power plants, according to Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group.
Obama administration fuel standards, developed with the auto industry, environmentalists and others, are working as planned. They are reducing fuel consumption, reducing reliance on foreign oil, reducing gas prices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Turning them back and freezing them at 2020 levels will increase gas prices and greenhouse gases.
There will be a 60-day public comment period on the new standards before a final decision is made. We urge the public and other interested parties, including the auto industry, to reject a policy that may be good politics but is bad economics.