Ducey not among governors supporting 55 mpg fuel efficiency standards

Under Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, an automaker’s fleet average will have to approach 55 mpg by 2025. The Trump administration has proposed rolling that back to 39 mpg. (Photo by Claire Caulfield/KJZZ)

PHOENIX – Governors of 23 states and Puerto Rico this week urged the Trump administration to retain the high vehicle fuel-efficiency standards set by President Barack Obama.

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona was not one of those governors.

Under current rules, automakers have to achieve corporate average fuel economy of almost 55 mpg by 2025. The Trump administration wants to roll that back to 39 mpg.

Whatever the administration decides, California has had a waiver to write its own rules since 1968. If it retains the 55 mpg standard, a court fight is probable.

In their statement, the governors said they “stand together in calling for one strong, national clean car standard and support preserving state authority to protect our residents from vehicle pollution.” Among the signatories were the Democratic governors of neighboring California, Nevada and New Mexico.

In 2017, as the federal Environmental Protection Agency was reconsidering changing the rules, Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality urged keeping the original target.

“Vehicle emissions contribute to air quality challenges in a significant portion of the state,” Timothy Franquist, former director of the department’s air quality division, said in a letter submitted to a request for comment.

Franquist at the time called the fuel efficiency standards “an effective and vital measure to improve air quality and better protect public health and the environment.”

ADEQ didn’t make anyone available for comment on the letter from the bipartisan group of governors, who are members of the United States Climate Alliance.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.