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Trump eases up on Obama-era fuel efficiencies rules for cars, trucks

WASHINGTON  –  The Trump administration proposes a modest increase in fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks, scrapping a more aggressive Obama-era rule aimed at curbing the planet’s largest source of carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change.

The Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule applies to most passenger vehicles for model years 2021 through 2026. Administration officials who unveiled the rule Tuesday said it will save hundreds of lives each year by encouraging families to buy newer cars that have the latest safety features because they’ll be more affordable when freed from meeting tougher standards.

“This rule reflects the Department’s No. 1 priority – safety – by making newer, safer, cleaner vehicles more accessible for Americans who are, on average, driving 12-year old cars,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told reporters on a conference call.

The final rule will increase stringency of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and CO2 emissions standards by 1.5% each year through model year 2026, compared with the standards issued in 2012 under President Barack Obama, which would have required about 5% annual increases over that period.

Carbon emissions contribute to climate change.

In effect, the standard will require cars and light trucks to average roughly 40 miles per gallon by 2025, down from about 50 miles per gallon under the Obama rule, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The regulation was revised from last summer when the Trump administration proposed freezing the standards. Officials said they adjusted the proposal to include a “realistic and achievable” increase after receiving more than 700,00 comments from the industry and the public.

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