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The Trump administration is expected to move to weaken US fuel economy standards for 2022-25 model year cars this week ahead of a regulatory deadline Sunday, setting up a confrontation with the California Air Resources Board over its stricter standards.

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The Environmental Protection Agency submitted its final determination to the White House for review on Friday, according to the Office of Management and Budget website, but details have not been made public.

President Donald Trump announced in March 2017 that he was reopening a midterm review of US light duty vehicle fuel economy standards to improve economics for automakers and that he was considering erasing targets put in place by the Obama administration.

California holds a waiver from EPA allowing it to set stricter standards than the federal limit through model year 2025, and a dozen states follow California's lead.



CARB voted last year to uphold its auto tailpipe emissions limits for 2022-25 model years. Chairwoman Mary Nichols criticized automakers at the time for pushing for a new review of the limits only to complain to California regulators that they do not want to meet two sets of standards. "What were you thinking when you threw yourself at the mercy of the Trump administration?" she said ahead of the vote.

The Auto Alliance trade group has campaigned for one national program, arguing automakers cannot make two different fleets.

In January 2017, EPA determined ahead of schedule and in the final days of the Obama administration that US automakers are meeting the targets quicker and at lower costs than expected, leaving the industry more than able to meet the 2025 goal of 54.5 mpg for the nationwide fleet average. The original deadline was April 2018.

The rules for corporate average fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions impact automakers' decisions about vehicle body weights, engine specifications, and promotion of hybrid and electric vehicles.

However, a major aluminum components manufacturer told S&P Global Platts last year that US automakers have invested too much in so-called "lightweighting" of the vehicle fleet to abandon the trend, no matter what the Trump administration does with the CAFE standards. -- Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jason Lindquist, newsdesk@spglobal.com