The Trump administration is rolling back the US government’s strongest attempt to combat the climate crisis, weakening rules which compel auto companies to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Critics say the move will lead to more life-threatening air pollution and force Americans to spend more on gasoline.
The changes to Obama-era regulations will allow vehicles to emit about a billion more tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide – equivalent to roughly a fifth of annual US emissions.
The rollback is one of dozens Trump officials have ushered to completion, seeking to bolster the fossil fuel industry amid intense opposition from Democratic-led states and pushback from world leaders.
Experts say the world is far off track in dealing with the climate emergency, following a year of record-breaking heat, rising hunger, displacement and loss of life due to extreme temperatures and weather disasters.
Donald Trump is expected to laud the new rule as a boost to the US economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. His administration says weakening the standards will make cars about $1,000 cheaper, leading Americans to buy new and safer models more frequently and resulting in fewer crash fatalities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief, Andrew Wheeler, said in a statement: “Now, more than ever, this country needs a sensible national program that strikes the right regulatory balance for the environment, the auto industry, the economy, safety, and American families.
“[This rule] does all of those things by improving fuel economy, continuing to reduce air pollution, and making new vehicles more affordable for all Americans.”