WASHINGTON -- The politics of fuel economy just got messier.
The EPA's surprise decision last week to uphold its greenhouse-gas targets keeps the auto industry pretty much where it was, on the road to cleaner and more efficient cars, and in pursuit of a light-vehicle fleet that averages more than 50 mpg by 2025.
But it significantly reduces the latitude for automakers to seek changes to the grand bargain they struck with federal and California regulators in 2011 to advance President Obama's energy and environmental agenda. It also limits the options for the incoming administration of Donald Trump to reconcile the rules with his deregulatory campaign rhetoric.
The EPA ruling compresses the promised midterm evaluation of the government's ambitious fuel economy program.
The midterm evaluation, which formally began in July, was a big reason that auto CEOs stood in support of Obama in 2011 when he announced what has come to be known as the One National Program of aligned greenhouse-gas and fuel-economy regulations.