Pruitt rallies auto industry on emissions plan

David Shulkin no longer leading the VA

President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed support for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, as U.S. Congress members including two fellow Republicans called for Pruitt's resignation after reports he paid far below market rates to live in a condo owned by a lobbyist.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he will join other states in opposing the Trump administration's efforts to rollback fuel Obama-era fuel economy standards.

As part of the 2012 rulemaking establishing the model year 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA made a regulatory commitment to conduct a MTE of the standards for MY 2022-2025 no later than April 1, 2018.

Current regulations from the EPA require the fleet of new vehicles to get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025. After Obama's orders were issued, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said that, when fuel standards are raised, automakers move to create a more fuel-efficient line, save consumers money and cut back on emissions. That's a little more than six litres per 100 kilometres, and nearly 40 per cent higher than the existing fuel economy standards.

Meanwhile, the EPA inspector general has widened its investigation into travel and security expenses multiple times, and the audit now includes the administrator's trip to Morocco.

Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Pruitt made the right decision and that the administration was working on a way to both increase fuel economy and "keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans".

California has always been allowed by the EPA - under the so-called "California waiver" - to impose stricter standards than Washington does on vehicle emissions of some pollutants. But Pruitt, making the announcement in Chantilly, Va., with his comments capped on either end by automotive executives, said exactly what those changes are have yet to be determined. Pruitt said in a statement Monday that the agency will work with all states, including California, to finalize new standards.

In a statement, an EPA lawyer defended the lease agreement, saying it was "consistent with federal ethics regulations regarding gifts".

"Co-operative federalism doesn't mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country", he said. Proponents of the corporate average fuel economy standards, or CAFE, say they have led to big gains in auto technology and that relaxing them could eventually hurt sales of USA cars in European and Asian countries that are moving toward mandates for electric cars. Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, said Pruitt should resign or "be fired immediately", because the EPA chief had shown "contempt for transparency, ethical guidelines and the public interest".

"We will get this right going forward, this year", Pruitt said.

EPA representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking a response to the criticism.

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