Courts and Scientists to Trump: Show Your Work on Vehicle Rules

Statement by Michelle Robinson, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 28, 2019

WASHINGTON (October 25, 2019)—In its rush to roll back national vehicle emissions standards, the Trump administration is pushing science out of the process—an unacceptable way to make policy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the scientific community, and the federal judiciary.

In the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Friday, a panel of federal judges ruled that the Trump administration can proceed with its effort to set new vehicle standards—but that agencies will need to deal in reality and offer legitimate reasons for the changes they make. And today, more than 500 scientists have released a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanding that the agency follow the science and keep standards strong.

Below is a statement by Michelle Robinson, director of the Clean Transportation Program at UCS.

“The Trump administration is determined to upend vehicle emissions rules, but the Court of Appeals has made it very clear that the administration won’t be able to get away with capriciously rolling back standards to score political points.

“If you’re going to put new rules into place, you need to show your work. Unfortunately for the Trump administration, their arguments for undoing clean car rules don’t pass the laugh test. More than 500 experts have pointed out that the administration’s rush to weaken these rules defies the clear scientific evidence and runs roughshod over tens of thousands of public comments. Even several automakers oppose the administration’s radical proposals—they know they can meet stringent standards and stay competitive.

“The good news for consumers and the climate is that the basic facts haven’t changed. Today’s standards are feasible and cost-effective. They save consumers money at the pump and cut emissions. Put simply, they work—and the courts have made clear that the Trump administration can’t toss them aside on a whim.

“Together, the scientists’ letter and the court’s ruling send a warning to the administration that they can’t rely on politically-convenient misinformation.”

Tomorrow, Congress will have its own opportunity to examine the merits of the administration’s rollback—the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment will hold its first hearing into vehicle standards and the Trump administration’s decision-making process.