The decision by the EPA comes years earlier than expected.
The EPA announced Wednesday that it doesn’t think fuel economy standards put in place by President Obama in 2012 should be loosened. The standards, which call for cars and SUVs to achieve as much as 52.6 mpg and reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically by 2025, had until April 2018 to receive a final decision by the government agency.
The "Proposed Determination" by the EPA kicks off a 30-day comment period in which auto industry groups will remark on the suggested standards, in an effort to either reverse or revise the regulations. Industry analysts suggest that the EPA could be taking a hard stand on the fuel economy issues now before Trump takes office in January.
"My sense is that EPA sees trouble ahead for the idea of continuing to increase emissions standards," said Jeremy Anwyl, long-time auto industry consultant and the CEO of the site Trucks.com told CNN. "This is their way of getting their position on the record.”
In the decision, the EPA said that, so far, car companies have been able to meet standards without having to drastically raise prices on new vehicles. But industry experts dispute that technology will rise at a steeper rate as economy standards increase and the equipment necessary to meet those standards becomes more expensive.
Of course, these rules are not yet set in stone, and would remain vulnerable to change by the Trump administration until 2018. The new administration – which recently announced the addition of transportation director Elaine Chao – could require the EPA to issue a revised rule, undoing the current one. Already, automakers like Ford and Chevy have urged the incoming administration to "roll back" the stringent EPA standards.