DETROIT — The U.S. government is seeking public comments for a review of tough U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards put in place by the Obama administration.
The review — being handled by Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) — was ordered by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
It is widely seen as a preamble to loosening fuel standards, handing a victory to the auto industry.
Rules set by the EPA may, however, take a back seat to consumers demanding vehicles that guzzle less gas and automakers having to meet strict standards if they want to sell cars overseas, according to auto industry analysts.
"We are moving forward with an open and robust review of emissions standards, consistent with the timeframe provided in our regulations," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.
"We encourage the public to submit the best-available and most up-to-date information, so that we can get back on track with what the regulation actually requires of the Agency. Finally, we are working with DOT to ensure that our standards are ultimately aligned.
"We want to increase public participation, listen to those impacted directly by our regulations and use the best available information and data to inform our regulatory actions."
The Obama administration's rules, negotiated with auto makers in 2012, were aimed at doubling average fleetwide fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, although the real-world mileage figures would be lower.
The review covers vehicle model years 2022-25. The EPA is also seeking comments on whether fuel standards for the 2021 model year "are appropriate."
Interested partes can comment at regulations.gov. The public comment period will be open for 45 days.
Environmental and consumer groups criticized the ongoing process to review the Obama-era standards.
"If auto makers are allowed to slack off on making cars run more efficiently, Americans will be forced to spend thousands of dollars more on gas, instead of on their families," Jack Gillis, public affairs director of the Consumer Federation of America, said in an emailed statement.
Nick Carey is a reporter with Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.