What happened: The science-based concerns of scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were sidelined when the Trump administration finalized new standards for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule in March 2020. The final rule failed to include a series of documents in which EPA technical staff highlighted several ways in which the rule was out of line with the best available science. This includes the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration adapting their own model of analysis to evaluate greenhouse gas emission standards, instead of using the EPA’s well-established model. The SAFE rule finalized by the Trump administration required U.S. cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs to improve average fuel economy and reduce emissions by 1.5 percent each year between model years 2021 and 2026, which was far less protective than the Obama’s administration’s standards of improving the new passenger vehicle fleet’s average efficiency by 5 percent a year over the same period.
Why it matters: Trump administration officials undermined proper scientific processes and sidelined EPA experts by finalizing a rule that the best available scientific evidence suggests would dramatically contribute to air-polluting and climate-changing emissions, thereby impacting the health and safety of communities across the U.S. and even the world.