The Trump administration announced new fuel efficiency standards Tuesday that roll back the aggressive plans made by the Obama administration. The rules, which were required by law to be released Tuesday, seek a 1.5% annual increase in fuel efficiency on automobiles beginning next year, a big drop from the 5% increase set by President Obama. The changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards would mean average miles per gallon in new vehicles would be around 40 as opposed to the 55 mpg by 2025 that the Obama administration wanted. The administration said the new rules for vehicle fleets, which set mileage standards through 2026, strike a proper balance among consumer needs, the economy and the environment, but critics contended the final rules are insufficiently green. The administration says the new rules will make new vehicles more affordable, which will lead to a major reduction in deaths and injuries as consumers will replace their older, less-safe models with new automobiles that have better safety features. “Our standards are tough but obtainable,” said James Owens, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “We think we’ve struck the right balance. By reducing the regulatory burden we will get more Americans into newer, safer, cleaner vehicles.” Many automakers say the Obama-era standards would have been difficult to reach, as consumers continue to buy gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks and have turned away from smaller sedans that use less gasoline. With the average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. climbing to $38,000, the administration argued it had become an item increasingly beyond the means of many American families to buy new. The average age of a car on the American highways is 12 years old, up from eight years old in 1990, Mr. Owens and other administrators said in a conference call Monday announcing the new standards. The new regulations should knock at least $1,000 off the sticker price of new vehicles and spur the purchase of up to 2.7 million new cars. That would mean 3,300 fewer fatalities, 397,000 fewer injuries and more than 1.8 million fewer vehicles damaged in crashes, according to the NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency, which worked together for 18 months to draw up the new regulations.
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