Trump budget slashes EPA emission testing, hits makers with higher fees


2017 Ford F-150 Raptor strapped to a dyno

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor strapped to a dyno

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The prospect of ongoing operations as usual continues to darken for the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to a detailed internal budget document published in the The Washington Post, the Trump administration wants to eliminate virtually all federal funding for the agency’s vehicle emissions and fuel-economy testing budgets.

If the proposal to eliminate $48 million in federal funding for EPA testing and certification passes, more than 50 testing programs and 150 jobs will be eliminated—just part of a larger 25-percent reduction in the agency's staff.

DON'T MISS: Trump budget to slash EPA funds

Rapidly emerging as one of the government entities most targeted by the new administration, the 64-page draft budget underscores Trump's desires for deregulation and enormous reductions in EPA influence and scope.

Despite this agency’s mission of protecting air, water, and land from pollution—one that remains highly popular with the American electorate—candidate Trump promised to eliminate the EPA "in almost every form" if he were to be elected. 

Marge Oge, President Obama’s former head of EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, says the plan represents a 99 percent federal cut to the budget for vehicle testing.

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

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It would “pretty much shut down the testing lab," she said.

Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said automakers too were concerned that the proposed cuts could delay timely certification of new vehicles "and getting products to consumers."

Last month President Trump ordered a reopening of comments on U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for 2022 through 2025 that the agency had finalized under the Obama administration.

READ THIS: VW diesel emissions scandal

This was during the same period that the EPA decided to examine automakers more closely after Volkswagen admitted to deliberate cheating on emission tests for more than 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. between 2009 and 2015.

In an effort to save money, fuel efficiency and driving performance of its “clean diesel” models sold from 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen used secret software to emit up to 40 times more than the allowable emissions.

That scandal led the agency to review emissions from all new diesel vehicles on sale or submitted for certification in the U.S.

Chrome exhaust pipe

Chrome exhaust pipe

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The proposed budget cuts would remove funding for confirmatory EPA testing, currently imposed upon automakers like Volkswagen, while risking the vast improvements in air and water quality enjoyed by Americans since President Richard Nixon created the agency in a 1970 executive order.

The Trump budget is not expected to be approved in anything close to its current form; it is viewed more as "directional" than an actual proposal for Congress to take up.

But it indicates more trouble ahead for an agency squarely in the cross-hairs of the new administration.

—Ellen Richardson

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