EPA expected to reopen vehicle emissions decision: source

(Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce next week it would reopen a review of 2022-2025 vehicle emissions requirements after automakers urged the Trump administration to reverse a decision under former President Barack Obama, a source said on Friday.

A truck engine is tested for pollution exiting its exhaust pipe as California Air Resources field representatives (unseen) work a checkpoint set up to inspect heavy-duty trucks traveling near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, California September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Last week, trade groups representing General Motors Co GM.N, Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T, Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE, Ford Motor Co F.N, Honda Motor Co 7267.T and others formally asked new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to withdraw an Obama administration decision to lock in vehicle emission rules through 2025.

A person briefed on the matter who had seen the draft order restarting the review said it was expected to be unveiled next week. The source was not authorized to discuss contents of the order publicly.

The EPA notice is expected to say that the agency plans to work in tandem with the U.S. Transportation Department to set consistent standards for corporate average fuel efficiency and emissions limits, the source said.

A White House spokeswoman and an EPA spokesman declined to comment.

The EPA had until April 2018 to decide whether the 2022-2025 standards were feasible under a “midterm review” but in November moved up its decision to Jan. 13, just before Obama left office.

The auto group requests follow a separate letter to President Donald Trump earlier this month from the chief executives of GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV FCAU.NFCHA.MI, along with the top North American executives at Toyota, VW, Honda, Hyundai Motor Co 005380.KS, Nissan Motor Co Ltd 7201.T and others urging Trump to revisit the decision.

GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters on Tuesday that automakers were “looking to actually have the midterm review.” She said the review needs to look “at all the different dynamics that are occurring.”

Automakers say the rules impose significant costs and are out of step with consumer preferences. Environmentalists say the rules save drivers fuel costs and should not be changed.

In 2011, Obama announced an agreement with automakers to raise fuel efficiency standards to a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This, the administration said, would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles but cost the auto industry about $200 billion over 13 years.

In July, EPA said because Americans were buying fewer cars and more SUVs and trucks, it now estimated the fleet will average 50.8 mpg to 52.6 mpg in 2025.

Earlier Friday, eight environmental organizations urged Pruitt not to reopen the issue. These included the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, League of Conservation Voters and Natural Resources Defense Council.

“EPA should stay the course and look to the future, to protect our climate and the workers developing clean car technologies,” council President Rhea Suh said in a statement.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Paul Simao and Richard Chang