Cheap Gas Could Make EPA Car Rules Backfire

By Siciliano, John | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Cheap Gas Could Make EPA Car Rules Backfire


Siciliano, John, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The Obama administration's fuel economy rules could backfire in a world dominated by cheap oil and gasoline, according to the Energy Department's independent analysis wing.

The problem arises from a dramatic change in consumer behavior, an analysis by the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday. With low gasoline prices, driven by cheap prices for crude oil, the automakers are selling record numbers of pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans and other larger passenger vehicles.

That means the fuel economy of vehicles being driven will become lower and more gasoline consumed.

If the trend persists, which many analysts say it will, it would move President Obama's light-duty vehicle regulations in the opposite direction of their intended goal, according to the analysis.

"Even though fuel efficiency for light-duty trucks and passenger cars has increased because of fuel economy regulations, light-duty trucks have lower fuel efficiency on average than passenger cars," the Energy Information Administration analysis says. "Over a longer period, the differences in fuel economy can increase gasoline consumption as trucks make up a higher percentage of the nation's [light-duty vehicle] fleet."

The Environmental Protection Agency developed the rules at the direction of President Obama to improve fuel efficiency and reduce the use of fossil fuels by 1.8 billion barrels of oil, while driving down greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. Many scientists say the emissions are causing the Earth's climate to warm, resulting in more droughts, wildfires and other calamities.

"The rules will simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, increase fuel savings and provide clarity and predictability for manufacturers," the EPA says. Brian Deese told reporters Monday that the rules are a key part of the U.S. reducing its emissions to meet the goals of a global climate change agreement world leaders hope to sign in Paris in December.

The EPA program is in a critical year in which the average fuel economy for 2016 model-year vehicles must meet a goal of 35.5 miles per gallon. The second phase of the program kicks in for model-year 2017-2025 vehicles, with a goal of 54.5 miles per gallon. …

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