WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's plan to reassess strict U.S. light-vehicle emissions standards put in place under former President Barack Obama drew criticism on Wednesday from Democrats and environmental groups who accused him of risking more carbon emissions and higher fuel costs.
The move by Trump -- announced during a trip to suburban Detroit -- is a victory for automakers that say the current rules are too expensive, could cost jobs and are out of step with vehicles consumers want to buy.
But the Republican president will not seek to revoke California's authority to set vehicle efficiency rules even stricter than federal rules as part of this move, a White House official said. The official did not rule out seeking to withdraw California's authority in the future.
The Obama administration's rules, negotiated with automakers in 2012, were aimed at doubling average fleetwide fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025. In January, shortly before Trump took office, Obama's EPA locked that goal in place in a move that disappointed car manufacturers.
Trump on Wednesday said the EPA will reverse the Obama administration's action to lock in the standards and will spend a year reviewing whether those rules are feasible. The administration has made no decisions on how or if the standards should be revised, the official said.
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group, called the move another part of Trump's retreat from action to combat climate change.
"This change makes no sense," Suh said. "Mileage standards save consumers money at the gas pump, make Americans less dependent on oil, reduce carbon pollution and advance innovation. The current standards helped the auto companies move from bankruptcy to profitability, and there is no reason they cannot be met."
In Michigan, Trump met with the CEOs of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles along with top U.S. executives from Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motors Co., Daimler AG and others. He also met with auto workers.