President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly pick former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to head the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, headed up the Department of Labor under former President George W. Bush, and energy insiders predict her appointment means an end to using the department to fight global warming.
“It means that the war on the internal combustion engine will, mercifully, be over,” Mike McKenna, a Republican strategist, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It means that right order will be reinstated on things like the federal mandates on car buyers,” said McKenna, who recently left Trump’s transition team, referring to federal fuel efficiency standards.
President Barack Obama used the Transportation Department to mandate cars built in 2025 get 54.5 miles per gallon as a way to wean the U.S. off foreign oil and fight global warming through cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported in November that automakers beat fuel efficiency standards in new cars, but at the same time automakers are asking the incoming Trump administration to reconsider the 54.5 miles per gallon standard. EPA and DOT jointly administer federal fuel economy standards.
“Well-meaning regulatory actions risks increasing compliance costs to the point that additional safety and fuel-efficiency technologies put new vehicles out of financial reach for the average new car purchaser,” the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wrote in a recent letter to Trump’s transition team.
The Obama administration finalized its 54.5 miles per gallon standard when gas prices were high, but the hydraulic fracturing boom helped cut prices at the pump from more than $3.85 per gallon to just over $2.15 a gallon today.
Americans aren’t as willing to spend more money upfront to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle, according to automakers. The average car price has risen $6,900 since Obama took office.