Statement by Therese Langer, ACEEE Transportation Program Director
The Trump administration’s plan to roll back clean car standards will force Americans to pay more at the gas pump and increase air pollution that harms our health and the environment.
By hitting the brakes on corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions standards before model year 2021, the administration would cause the owner of an average model year 2025 vehicle to fill up the gas tank 66 more times and drive up the cost of ownership by $1,620 over the life of the vehicle. By 2035, the rollback would add at least 158 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to our air annually and increase US fuel consumption by 13.9 billion gallons per year — more than we import each year from Iraq or Venezuela. That is the equivalent of having more than 39 million additional cars on the road.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) worse-than-expected plan flies in the face of science, years of research and technical analysis —and common sense. In addition to saving Americans money at the pump, creating jobs, and protecting our health and the environment, the standards help to ensure the continued health of the domestic auto industry in a global market moving toward greener vehicles. EPA and DOT are slamming on the brakes even though their engineers previously identified cost-effective technologies available to deliver gains over 25% beyond 2020 levels. And DOT has gone so far as to argue that the United States no longer has a compelling need to conserve fuel. Perhaps most preposterous of all is the agencies’ projection that their rollback will save thousands of lives by reducing the amount that people drive.
Taking this ill-advised plan one step further, EPA also proposes to revoke the Clean Air Act waiver it issued allowing California and 13 other states to maintain stronger standards. In addition, DOT asserts that CAFE standards preempt those state programs. But states looking to develop a path forward should not be held back by a federal government that has lost its way on fuel efficiency advances and emissions reductions.
Maintaining progress on fuel economy and tailpipe emissions is essential to meeting long-term economic and environmental goals in the United States. The Trump administration should focus on facilitating that progress rather than rolling back clean car standards that benefit American consumers, automakers, and the environment.