Statement by Therese Langer, ACEEE Transportation Program director
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to throw automotive progress in reverse by declaring that light-duty vehicle standards for model years 2022-2025 are no longer appropriate. Such a determination would be in direct conflict with the agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment, and with the administration’s promises of economic prosperity and a resurgence in domestic manufacturing. The agency has offered no new evidence that would support a decision to jettison years of rigorous and comprehensive analysis that has repeatedly demonstrated the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the standards. EPA’s action would pave the way for a regulatory rollback in the coming months.
Putting the brakes on these standards would be a costly mistake with long-lasting economic and environmental impacts. In giving their tacit support to the move, domestic automakers could ultimately undermine their own competitiveness globally, as they are facing similar or more stringent standards in major markets around the world. If US manufacturers lag in developing the fuel-saving technologies that global markets demand, it could adversely affect our exports, as well as provide an opening for additional imports of more fuel-efficient vehicles the next time fuel prices spike.
ACEEE estimates that by 2035, the standards in question would save more than 10.4 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Even with today’s relatively low gas price projections, the owner of an average 2025 vehicle would save more than $1,000 dollars over the vehicle’s lifetime, due to fuel savings that far exceed the upfront cost of making the vehicle more efficient. These are on top of the major savings accruing from the program already, under standards in place through model year 2021.
The nation would be best served by steady advances in vehicle efficiency and emissions standards that save Americans money at the pump, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and keep our auto industry relevant both here and abroad.