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Government regulators said Monday that U.S. auto makers aren’t on track to meet the Obama administration’s ambitious fuel-economy standards, but added that the industry does have the technical ability to meet them even in the face of cheap gasoline prices. Monday’s report, by the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, appeared aimed at laying a technical foundation for a forceful defense of the administration’s mileage standards in years to come. But the decision on whether to keep those rules will fall to the next president, so the report is kicking off a lengthy battle over whether to do so. The roughly 1,200-page report cited research that dramatically lower gas prices are spurring purchases of SUVs and pickups, making the mileage targets harder to meet. That could raise questions about the scope and feasibility of the targets, a key component of President Barack Obama’s climate-change agenda.

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