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Nothing should be forever at the EPA

By 2025, new cars and trucks in dealer showrooms will achieve fuel economy averaging 51.4 miles per gallon, the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated.

Given the fact that by the EPA’s own numbers, average fuel economy in the United States was just 24.8 mpg, that seems more than a tall order. Try impossible.

Yet EPA officials released the mandate last week, using technicalities in federal law aimed at making it difficult or impossible for the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump to alter the number.

Congress makes the law and can repeal statutes such as that the EPA is using in an attempt to burn consumers, of course. But the point is that agency officials are trying to do that.

Auto industry officials have said the agency’s mandate is unrealistic, even though the EPA notes its Corporate Average Fuel Economy program is not based on real-world mpg results. Drivers are not expected to actually achieve a nationwide 51.4 mpg average.

Still, anything near that simply is not achievable, barring some unforeseen leap forward in technology. But because automakers must try to meet the EPA mark, they will make vehicles less safe, more expensive and possibly less durable than without the rule.

Congress should not wait for Trump to test the EPA’s new rule. Lawmakers should step in to remind the agency nothing, not even its mandates, is forever.

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