Trump Administration Attacks Consumers, Climate, and States with Indefensible New Vehicle Proposal

Statement by Ken Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 2, 2018

WASHINGTON (August 2, 2018)—The Trump administration has released a proposal that would freeze any progress on fuel economy and emissions from new vehicles after 2020. The proposal would weaken existing vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards and deny California’s ability to set its own vehicle standards, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. 

“This proposal is completely unacceptable. It’s an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America’s auto industry. The Trump administration has decided to force America’s drivers to spend more at the gas pump, burn millions more barrels of oil, and put us on a path to greater harm from climate change.

“The administration’s proposal goes beyond a simple rollback. This is a demolition, and there’s no scientific or technological justification for it. In the past six years, automakers have built cleaner, more efficient vehicles in every class. Consumers have saved over $60 billion at the pump, while automakers have enjoyed strong auto sales and advanced technological innovation. Under this proposal, that progress comes to a screeching halt. In fact, we could wind up worse off in 2025 than we are today, making American auto manufacturing less competitive in the global market as other countries vault ahead of us on innovation.

“If this rollback proceeds as the administration suggests, our analysis shows that in 2030 alone we’d burn an extra 250 million barrels of oil, at a cost of $36 billion to America’s drivers. That would add up to $1,700 over the lifetime of the car for the average driver.  This would eliminate half of the benefits from the post-2016 standards. In 2030 alone, we’ll see an additional 120 million metric tons of carbon emissions—the equivalent of running 30 coal-fired power plants for a year. There’s simply no reason to impose those extra costs on our wallets and our air. 

“What’s more, in order to impose their vision on the country, the Trump administration has launched an unprecedented attack on state authority under the Clean Air Act. They intend to revoke the right of California, and the 13 other states that adopt California standards, to set a higher bar for their own constituents. This makes a mockery of the administration’s rhetoric about states’ authority and demonstrates disregard for well-settled law.   

“Automakers bear a lot of the responsibility for the chaos that they’re about to experience. They asked the administration to re-open the standards, and their trade groups lobbied behind the scenes to weaken them, arming the administration with shoddy studies to support their case. If they were hoping for small changes to the standards, they clearly underestimated this administration’s feverish commitment to gutting rules which protect the public. If automakers want credit for caring about sustainability and climate change, they need to publicly demand that the administration reverse course."