Today the EPA has finalized new fuel economy standards ahead of schedule. The move is a last-minute effort to solidify the rules, which were first proposed in 2012, before President Obama leaves office in a few days. Under the new rules, automakers will be required to hit a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by year 2025, with new benchmarks starting this year.
The controversial fuel economy standards were first issued in 2012 in a joint announcement by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s CAFE division. At the time they rules were to be subjected to review in April 2018 before being finalized.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday that the rules have been reviewed extensively since 2012, mostly during the 2012 presidential campaign. With that said, McCarthy has moved up the review and finalization to now, so the new standards are now the law of the land.
“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input,” McCarthy said in a statement confirming the decision. “At every step in the process the analysis has shown that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks remain affordable and effective through 2025, and will save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump while protecting our health and the environment.”
Most automakers have resisted the new standards and have actively lobbied against the Obama Administration finalizing them prior to President-elect Trump assuming office. They argue the standards are too aggressive and may not be achievable.
Automakers have new standards to live by effective this year. In 2017 automakers are expected to have their fleet-wide average rise from 2016’s 34 mpg to 35 mpg. Each year going forward has new increases up through 54.5 mpg in 2025.
Automakers who fail to meet the standards will be fined $5.50 for every tenth of a mile-per-gallon in which they are under the threshold, multiplied by the volume of products the automaker offers that are under the average. For some automakers, the fines could add up to significant dollars.