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Inspector general to review U.S. EPA vehicle emissions rewrite

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said on Monday it will evaluate the agency’s rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions requirements.

In May, Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, asked the inspector general’s office to investigate whether EPA officials improperly circumvented the Clean Air Act, regulatory and other procedural requirements, citing documents obtained by Carper’s office.

The inspector general’s office said it would conduct an evaluation to determine if EPA actions were “consistent with requirements, including those pertaining to transparency, record-keeping, and docketing, and followed the EPA’s process for developing final regulatory actions.”

The EPA did not immediately comment.

In March, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized revised rules requiring 1.5 percent annual increases in fuel efficiency through 2026.

Under the Obama rules, automakers were to average about 5 percent improvements per year through 2025. The new requirements mean the U.S. vehicle fleet will average 40.4 mpg rather than 46.7 mpg under the Obama rules.

The administration says the new rules will result in the consumption of about 2 billion additional barrels of oil and the emission of 867 million to 923 million additional metric tons of carbon dioxide and will cut the future price of new vehicles by around $1,000 and reduce traffic deaths. Environmentalists dispute that the rule will reduce traffic deaths and say higher fuel costs will surpass any future new vehicle price reduction.

The inspector general wants numerous documents including briefing materials on the final rule.

Carper said the documents obtained show “significant inaccuracies and technical errors in the final rule” that the EPA apparently asked the Transportation Department to correct.

“According to these documents, EPA officials believed the failure to correct those inaccuracies and errors would make the rule legally vulnerable to challenge,” Carper wrote.

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