President Trump met with auto industry executives at the White House on Friday, arguing for his planned rollback of fuel efficiency and emissions standards, and telling them he wanted them to build “millions more cars” in the United States.
Let’s assume they would. If they did, any cars they made would also be dirtier and more expensive for consumers to drive without the fuel efficiency and emissions rules that the president wants to discard.
How much more expensive? A draft proposal by the Trump administration that emerged in recent weeks would result in additional fuel costs of “$193 billion to $236 billion cumulatively between now and 2035” depending on oil prices, according to an analysis by the Rhodium Group, a research firm that examines the market impact of energy and climate policy.
And those higher gasoline costs are likely to hurt most the very families President Trump claims to care so much about — the ones living paycheck to paycheck.
The efficiency standards, begun under President Gerald Ford in 1975, require auto companies to increase the fuel economy of cars and light trucks by a small amount each year. Through 2015, they saved American motorists an estimated $3.8 trillion in gasoline costs, according to a study by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. In kitchen-table terms, the average American family saved as much as $17,000 in gasoline costs from 1980 to 2014 because of the standards, an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found.
The fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards targeted by Mr. Trump were designed by the Obama administration and require automakers to meet escalating efficiency standards: 41.7 miles per gallon by 2020, and 54.5 m.p.g. in 2025. (Those numbers represent laboratory measures; on the road, they are equivalent to about 32 and 42 m.p.g., respectively.)
A draft Trump plan would freeze the fuel efficiency standard at the 2020 target. The future efficiency losses would increase oil consumption in the United States by between 126,000 and 283,000 barrels a day in 2025, depending on oil prices. By 2035, daily consumption would be between 252,000 and 881,000 barrels higher, according to the Rhodium Group.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s own assessment of the rules, published in January 2017, found that the 2025 mileage standard would result in $98 billion in net consumer benefits, mostly from reduced gasoline use, and that freezing the efficiency improvements would mean individual car