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EPA is rolling back fuel standards. What do automakers want?

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that the previous administration's rules on auto fuel economy go too far. Under the Obama-era standards, gas mileage would have doubled in new vehicles by 2025. Judy Woodruff learns more from Amy Harder of Axios.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Trump administration announced that it is rolling back fuel economy standards for the auto industry. Obama era rules would roughly double gas mileage in new vehicles by 2025. But the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that's too much.

    For more, I'm joined now by Amy Harder of Axios.

    Amy, welcome back to the program.

    So why is the Trump administration doing this?

  • AMY HARDER:

    Well, the regulatory rollback has been a key part of the Trump administration's agenda on the energy and environment front.

    The president and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have said repeatedly over the last year that they wanted to roll back regulations on automakers and bring back Detroit. So this is really one of the regulations that consumers and drivers see the most because they see the sticker on the car.

    So, this is a part of a broader agenda that the administration thinks that the former administration was going too aggressively.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How far back are they rolling these standards?

  • AMY HARDER:

    We didn't get a lot of details today. Today is really the very beginning of a long regulatory process. It might be more than a year before these things are final.

    There were no actual numbers about what they think the standards should be. So as of now, that's to be determined. They're going to do a rule-making over the next year, and that will decide that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what is the auto industry saying about this? Are they together with the administration in wanting the standards rolled back?

  • AMY HARDER:

    Well, that's a great question. It's a little bit murky.

    The associations that represent lawmakers, they say they welcome a redo and a reexamination of the standards, in part because gasoline prices have dropped and consumers want to have their F-150s, for example. But because California is moving more aggressively on these, there is concern that there will be a messy patchwork of regulations and automakers won't be able to comply with that if there's different standards depending on what state you're driving in.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And that was going to be one of my questions. California has had stricter standards. Are they going to be affected differently from everybody else?

  • AMY HARDER:

    Well, that's a great question.

    California has had a waiver for almost 50 years allowing them to set tougher standards, given the smog that has beset that state decades ago. So, the EPA said today that they were not taking action on that today. It's going to be something they decide on later, but it's going to be a showdown. It's going to be a legal and regulatory mess, and the automakers are kind of caught in the middle.

    They welcome this redo, but they don't want to have a patchwork.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, just quickly, bottom line, we don't really know yet how this is going to affect the emission standards.

  • AMY HARDER:

    Right. We don't.

    These economy standards were one of the largest and earliest pillars of President Obama's climate agenda. But we don't know yet what the — how much of a rollback the EPA will want to go.

    I think that will be a big question. And they say they're doing an analysis to show what consumers actually want to buy. I think there's concern that they will go quite far back and really reverse the clock, where as auto companies say they want to ratchet up the standards, just maybe not quite as much as what Obama put on the table.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Amy Harder with Axios, thank you very much.

  • AMY HARDER:

    Thanks for having me.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Appreciate it.

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