September 5, 2017

Administration Pushes to Weaken Vehicle Standards, Even as They Save Consumers Billions

Low-Income Americans Benefit Most, Would Be Hurt by Rollback

WASHINGTON (September 5, 2017)—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are considering whether to weaken vehicle standards that have consistently brought more-efficient vehicles to drivers across the country. The Trump Administration will hold a public hearing tomorrow in Washington, DC, to solicit public comments on these standards. Efforts by the administration, members of Congress, and auto industry lobbyists to weaken standards come in the face of mounting evidence that these standards have benefited consumers and the climate, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“The facts are clear: these standards are working,” said Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. “They’re the most important policy we have in place to reduce oil use. They save drivers money at the pump, and cut the emissions of gases that are harming our climate and making extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey more severe. These efficiency and emissions standards have driven innovation and they will help keep America’s manufacturers competitive in the years to come. It would be a huge mistake to ignore the overwhelming evidence that these standards are working as intended, and that automakers can meet them.”

A new fact sheet from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that the benefits of strong fuel economy standards are particularly important for low-income and rural households that spend more of their income on gasoline. Undercutting the standards would hurt these consumers most.

If maintained, these standards will save drivers billions at the pump and let them get further on less oil. By 2025, these rules would save consumers an average of $6,000 over the life of a new vehicle. Improvements in fuel efficiency have saved low- and middle-income households up to an average of 2 percent of their income.

“These standards aren’t just protecting the climate, they’re protecting family budgets,” said Joshua Goldman, senior policy analyst at UCS. “Efficient vehicles benefit everyone, but they particularly benefit lower-income families, who may spend as much as 30 percent of their income on transportation.”

Dave Cooke, a senior vehicles analyst at UCS, will be speaking at tomorrow’s hearing, and UCS members have submitted more than 70,000 comments in support of strong vehicle efficiency and global warming emissions standards. Last year, a Technical Assessment Report from the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board showed that these standards were feasible and cost-effective for auto manufacturers.

“We can’t afford to go backwards,” said Kimmell. “Auto manufacturers can and must keep the promises they made to the American people. They pledged to build cleaner cars for everyone, and we know they have the technology to get it done.” 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.