Experts condemn the Trump administration’s attack on strong Clean Car Standards

Americans are already speaking out in droves against the Trump Administration’s proposal to roll back America’s Clean Car Standards.

The proposal, if finalized, would increase pollution by billions of tons, cost consumers hundreds of billions of hard-earned dollars at the gas pump, and attack long-standing state leadership on clean cars.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are now accepting public comments (you can write to them here) and they’ll hold three public hearings in September – in Fresno, California; Dearborn, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (The administration had originally announced hearings in Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C. – then abruptly cancelled them with no explanation.)

But right from the beginning, before the public comment period even started, people across the country were voicing their concerns about rolling back these critical protections. Automakers themselves, including Ford and Honda, have disavowed the path the Trump administration is taking.

Here are a few of the more recent statements:

Health Organizations

“Our organizations … will urge the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration not to weaken fair and safe vehicle pollution limits that have proven successful in reducing pollution in the air we breathe.” – The American Lung Association and nine other groups

“This is absolutely a health and safety issue. We know that reducing air pollution is a direct health hazard and not a theoretical one. This proposal by the administration will result directly in more heart attacks, more asthma attacks, more sick kids, and more spending out of our pockets for sick care.” – Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association

Consumer Advocates

“Boosting fuel economy can save fuel and lives. The justification for rolling back standards relies on inflated cost numbers and a failure to account for how automakers price entry level vehicles. Blocking all progress after 2020 and lowering pollution targets will undermine consumer savings, weaken our economy, and put the brakes on automaker innovation.” – Consumers Union Vice President of Advocacy David Friedman 

“Our latest report completely refutes the Administration’s flat-out wrong rationale for rolling back the standards. Safety is up, fuel economy is up and sales are up …The truth is that today’s ‘all-new’ vehicles are the safest, most efficient, most desirable cars, trucks and SUVs in history, and consumers are responding by buying them in record numbers … Fuel efficiency makes safety affordable.” – Consumer Federation of America Executive Director Jack Gillis

Labor Leaders

“I believe that [the Clean Cars program] helps drive new industry and creates new jobs and forces these companies to look at these technologies which makes us all better in the state of Ohio.” – Rich Rankin, United Auto Workers (UAW) Regional Director in Toledo

“Getting more miles per gallon helps reduce our exposure to global oil price shocks we can neither control nor predict. It also reduces the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving the central environmental challenge of our time — global climate change… The clean car and fuel economy standards are helping us do that, while at the same time helping us bring back America’s manufacturing leadership and jobs. We owe it to our workers, and we owe it to our children, to stay the course.” – Leo Gerard, President of United Steelworkers and Rhea Suh, President of NRDC

“Walking back from the nation’s current strong fuel economy standards is a mistake, plain and simple … Automakers and suppliers have made billions of dollars in investments and created hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide ensuring that any vehicle a consumer chooses to buy — whether a car, truck, or SUV — gets more efficient every year. Strong standards keep that investment flowing and those jobs secure. Rolling them back means we lose ground in the race with China and other countries to design and build the best new vehicles and risk losing more American auto jobs to other nations.” – BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas

Industry Leaders

“We need the agencies and California to come together and find a compromise that would continue strong U.S. leadership in the clean mobility industry … If the standards are significantly weakened, we introduce market uncertainty that will negatively impact supplier investments, jobs and innovation in the United States.” – Rasto Brezny, Executive Director of Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association 

“NHTSA’s own data … confirm weight can be reduced safely in more than 95 percent of light trucks and passenger cars to boost MPG, while maintaining or increasing safety.” Aluminum Association President Heidi Brock

“We need those manufacturers to keep doing research and building better vehicles like they have been doing. And if they stop because the [Clean Car] standards are reversed, it would be bad for us as a business, and for this country.” Adam Lee, owner of Lee Auto Malls, a chain of auto dealerships in Maine

State and Local Government Leaders

“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas… Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states. This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.” – 20 State Attorneys General

“Colorado air already challenged by heat, wildfires, congestion. Why make worse? Why roll back emission standards? Truth: in end will cost drivers more AND make air quality worse. We will stick with cleaner, less expensive standards!” – Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

“Once again, the Trump Administration is siding with big oil and gas companies over families in Pennsylvania. Today’s decision will mean small business owners paying more to transport their goods and get to job sites and families paying more to drive to work or their child’s school. This decision flies in the face of what’s best for consumers and the environment. The EPA’s action to weaken fuel economy standards hurts Pennsylvania’s consumers, workers, and everyone who wants to breathe cleaner air.” – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

“Climate Mayors — the national coalition of 407 U.S. Mayors dedicated to pursuing solutions to global warming — denounces this unprecedented attack on both the environment and states’ rights, and vows to continue moving forward on transportation policies that help reduce the impact of climate pollution.” – Climate Mayors

Current and Former Government Officials

“The Trump Administration is proposing to weaken clean cars standards in ways that give foreign markets and Oil & Gas companies a boost while the U.S. will be stuck in reverse. Their strategy to Make America Great Again runs contrary to sound science and the law, threatens to blow up a carefully crafted national program that met the expressed wishes of American businesses and offered tremendous cost savings to consumers, undermines states rights, and calls into questions the safety of U.S. automobiles – not to mention our country’s obligation to reduce the greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.” – Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator, now Director of Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment

“The Trump Administration’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory continues to amaze me… Our transportation sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Blocking reasonable efforts to address the pollution that we know comes from the cars and trucks we drive is willful ignorance … By doubling down on the dirty vehicles of the past, President Trump is delivering yet another blow to automakers that have made clear that, going forward, they need to build vehicles for a world market and all 50 states.” – Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, Minority Leader of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

“Not a single person in Colorado has asked me to roll back #fueleconomy standards. I urge [President Trump] to rethink this decision and do what is best for the American people.” – Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado

“While big oil and China may cheer the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back fuel economy standards, American consumers and our kids will suffer by paying more at the pump and breathing in dirtier air. This misguided proposal will cost consumers billions at the pump and lead to uncertainty for domestic automakers — putting them at a competitive disadvantage compared to companies in China and elsewhere that are investing in cleaner cars.” – Senator Chuck Schumer of New York

“This Administration has put a target on California’s back — but we will not let them roll back the progress we’ve made to fight climate change.” – Senator Kamala Harris of California

Legal Scholars

“[H]ere is the fundamental problem EPA/DOT face:  how can EPA have said — as it has — that greenhouse gas emissions from cars endanger public health and welfare and then fail to regulate them to get those emissions to decline?” – Ann Carlson, Faculty Director of the UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

“If the Trump administration succeeds in scuttling the federal standards and neutralizing California, it could be the most significant setback for American progress on climate change so far under President Trump. Worse, this disastrous policy could continue well beyond his tenure. Future presidents could not simply undo the decision, if courts rule that the Trump administration’s interpretation of the law is categorically correct. In that case only Congress could restore California’s authority.” – Jody Freeman, Director of the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program

Technical Experts

“It’s hard to say what the logic is or what the thought is from the EPA in the Trump administration. I can’t say that they’re looking into it holistically and looking at all those factors. But what I can say is that they should be.” – Carla Bailo, President for the Center of Automotive Research and a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine fuel economy committee

“I don’t know how they are going to defend this analysis … I just don’t think it’s correct.” – Antonio Bento, professor of public policy and economics at University of Southern California, whose research is cited several times – incorrectly – in the Trump administration’s proposal

“We’ve done this study for many years. We’ve kind of resolved the issue that mass reductions do not inherently increase fatalities.” – Tom Wenzel, research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Energy Efficiency Standards group

“The administration doubles down on their flawed cost assessment by contending that vehicle price increases associated with stricter CAFE standards will induce people to hold onto vehicles longer. The thing is, even though efficiency standards are being implemented all over the globe and have been for years, there is no evidence of any such an effect … [T]he evidence shows that freezing CAFE standards is hard to justify on economic, social, environmental, or legal grounds.” – Dan Sperling, Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis

“Michigan’s automakers have the technology and intellectual capital needed to meet ever-tighter MPG and GHG emission targets. The standards are designed with flexibility in mind, and have already adjusted to the shift back to SUVs and other light trucks … [the proposed rollback is a] denial of basic science and a denial of American automakers’ engineering capabilities and ingenuity.” – John M. DeCicco, research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute

You can read even more reactions here.

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One Comment

  1. Sampath Prahlad
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    It makes absolutely no sense to roll back environmental clear air standards and regulations. From a standpoint of people’s health and health of the planet which again determines people’s health it makes sense to push ourselves towards greater energy efficiency for overall good both economically and health wise. It is the right thing to do even if the present administration thinks otherwise – anyway they cannot be credited for wise, honest, ethical and economical decisions.