The Trump Administration has rolled back federal clean car standards of vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions regulations, previously established under the Obama Administration as part of the Clean Air Act. The new regulations will revoke the previous standard held for car manufacturers which obligated them to create more fuel-efficient vehicles every year.
As part of a sector that currently ranked as the top contributor to carbon emissions – the transportation sector – this roll-back is predicted to increase greenhouse gas emissions 11% and increase gasoline consumption 20% by 2035.
The federal regulations, first enacted in 2009, required vehicle manufacturers to meet certain standards of fuel efficiency and had created a higher demand for advanced fuel-efficiency technology. Along with these standards, increased public awareness of vehicle emissions and their dangers to public health encouraged greater demands for fuel-efficient cars.
Just as progress was underway and the Clean Air Act was playing its role in the fight against climate change, the Trump Administration began repealing Obama-era environmental regulations.
EPA Action Administrator Andrew Wheeler claimed that the weakened regulations were necessary because the strict fuel-efficiency standards would have increased vehicle costs for consumers. He acknowledged that while they would increase gas consumption, consumers would save up to $500 billion. However, many believe otherwise. The federal rollback may even cause a higher death toll and higher costs for drivers. Under the Obama-era clean car standards, 40,000 premature deaths would have been prevented. Because efficient cars have lower fuel costs, Americans could have saved as much as $50 billion by 2030.
New York and other states had implemented vehicle emissions regulations that were even more rigid than those on the federal level. However, these states will no longer be able to enforce strict emission standards. This group of states has already sued the EPA for the failure of compliance with the Clean Air Act.
NYLCV will continue to advocate for policies that encourage clean cars with low emissions.