The overhaul of vehicle emission standards that the Trump administration called its “largest deregulatory initiative” is now under review by the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general.
The IG said Monday its review would determine whether the agency’s rule followed requirements for “transparency, record-keeping, and docketing, and followed the EPA’s process for developing final regulatory actions.”
In March, the agency lowered the annual emission improvement requirements that the makers of passenger vehicles must meet. Rather than growing approximately 5 percent annually as required under an Obama-era rule, the standards now increase about 1.5 percent annually. The Trump administration originally proposed freezing the standards.
The rule is expected to lead to more carbon dioxide emissions than if the 2012 rule had been kept in place. The Trump administration said the rule would save lives by making cars cost less, meaning drivers could more frequently upgrade to cars with the latest safety features.
Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works committee, in May asked for the inspector general to review how EPA and the Department of Transportation developed the rule. He wrote in a letter that documents and allegations he received “describe a fundamentally and legally flawed rule created by what may be the most procedurally problematic process my office has ever reviewed.”
EPA spokesman James Hewitt said the agency will “respond” to the inspector general’s notice, which includes a request for documents.
“As finalized, the SAFE Vehicles Rule provides a sensible, single national program that strikes the right regulatory balance, protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry, while supporting our economy and the safety of American families,” Hewitt said.
This story has been updated with comments from EPA spokesman James Hewitt.