| WASHINGTON, April 4
WASHINGTON, April 4 The Trump administration
would virtually eliminate federal funding for the Environmental
Protection Agency's budget for vehicle emissions and fuel
economy testing but will seek to raise fees on industry to pay
for some testing, a government document shows.
The cuts would slash by more than half the staff of the EPA
department that conducts vehicle, engine, and fuel testing to
verify emissions standards are met and mileage stickers are
accurate. Its work helped lead to Volkswagen AG's
2015 admission that it violated vehicle emissions rules for
In a March 21 budget document posted online by the
Washington Post, the Trump administration proposed eliminating
$48 million in federal funding for EPA vehicle and fuel testing
It represents a 99 percent federal cut to the vehicle
testing budget and would require "pretty much shutting down the
testing lab," said Margo Oge, who headed the EPA's Office of
Transportation and Air Quality under President Barack Obama.
The proposal, which would also cut 168 out of 304 full-time
jobs, seeks to partially fund current operations by boosting
fees automakers and engine manufacturers pay for testing. An EPA
official confirmed the document's authenticity.
The Trump administration has proposed cutting the EPA's
budget by 31 percent and eliminating more than 50 programs.
EPA spokesman John Konkus declined to answer questions about
how the cuts could affect vehicle testing. "We know we can
effectively serve the taxpayers and protect the environment.
While many in Washington insist on greater spending, EPA is
focused on greater value and real results," Konkus said.
Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of
Automobile Manufacturers, an auto trade association, said
automakers were concerned the proposed cuts could delay
certification of new vehicles "and getting products to
Janet McCabe, a former EPA official in the Obama
administration, said Monday that companies that take care to
comply with the rules can be at a disadvantage without strong
enforcement of the rules.
"We know that a little bit of cheating can mean a lot of air
pollution," McCabe said.
The administration plans to release a detailed budget plan
In March, Trump ordered a review of tough U.S. vehicle
fuel-efficiency standards put in place by the Obama
The EPA stepped up scrutiny of automakers after Volkswagen
admitted to cheating diesel emissions tests in 580,000 U.S.
vehicles. VW agreed to pay up to $25 billion in penalties and
buyback costs and pleaded guilty in March to felony charges.
In September 2015, EPA said it would review emissions from
all U.S. diesel vehicles after Volkswagen's admission it used
secret software to emit up to 40 times allowable emissions.
That review prompted the allegation by the EPA in January
that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV used undisclosed
software to allow excess diesel emissions from 104,000 U.S.
trucks and SUVs. Fiat Chrysler denies wrongdoing.
The EPA is also scrutinizing emissions from Daimler AG's
Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It has not approved Daimler
or Fiat Chrysler's request to sell 2017 model diesels.
The EPA has also investigated cases of several automakers
overstating mileage on window stickers in recent years.
In 2014, the EPA hit Korean automakers Hyundai Motor Co
and affiliate Kia Motors Corp with $350
million in penalties for overstating fuel economy ratings.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)