Federal government announces rollback of fuel efficiency standards
03.31.2020 - by Plug In America
Federal government announces rollback of fuel efficiency standards

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released Part Two of “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.” This rule rolls back the fuel efficiency standards to a 1.5% year-over-year improvement in mileage vs a 5% improvement under the Obama Administration. With this rollback, the nation loses critical guidance and direction on emissions reduction goals from the light-duty vehicle sector, which ultimately helps to spur overall interest and investment in electric vehicles (EVs) nationwide. Needless to say, Plug In America opposes this new rule under the Trump Administration.

“At a time when we are experiencing a global health crisis, we should not be weakening fuel efficiency standards and adding more pollution to the air we breathe,” said Plug In America Executive Director Joel Levin. “To protect the health of all Americans, we must transition to clean transportation, including plug-in electric vehicles. In addition, in the midst of the current economic slowdown, evidence shows that electric vehicles create good domestic jobs in manufacturing and energy. Rolling back the clean car standards is bad for the environment, bad for public health, and bad for the economy.”

With Part One of the rule, released in September 2019, the EPA and NHTSA revoked state authority to set its own tailpipe pollution standards and adopt zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. As we’ve stated before, there’s no doubt the single biggest policy driver for the market is the ZEV standard (mandate), which requires that an increasing percentage of new cars sold in the state be zero-emission. This forces the automakers to actually make EVs or to buy credits from other automakers who are making these clean cars.  

A report issued by the Rhodium group on the rollback of the standards found that: “Relative to Obama-era rules, we find that rolling back national fuel economy standards and revoking California’s waiver could reduce the share of ZEVs sold in 2035 by up to 8 percentage points nationwide, which could mean up to 14 million fewer ZEVs on the road by that year.”

In addition, rolling back clean car standards means more tailpipe pollution. Living with air pollution has been linked to higher rates of health issues, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Multiple studies have found that high levels of air pollution have also been linked to larger numbers of people hospitalized with pneumonia. In our unprecedented public health crisis right now, it makes zero sense to take any actions that would increase tailpipe pollution and further impact public health in a negative way. Instead, the Administration should take actions that promote the adoption of battery EVs, since they have no tailpipe and therefore no tailpipe pollution.  

A Consumer Reports study found that rolling back clean car standards would cost nearly every state (45 of 50) at least $1 billion in net consumer losses and cost all Americans a total of $300 billion in net losses. This is money that could be going back into local communities, acting as an economic stimulus at all levels, instead of going into a gas pump. EVs save consumers money due to their lower fuel costs (electricity) and the savings on maintenance. 

Since the re-opening of this rule under the Trump Administration, the states of Minnesota and New Mexico have announced their intent to join the California Advanced Clean Cars program—including adopting the ZEV mandate. In addition, Colorado fully adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program. And just two weeks, ago, Washington state also fully adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program.  

Ultimately, this issue will be decided in the courts, as numerous groups have challenged the Trump Administration over their actions with the standards—including Plug In America. We are part of the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation and a part of the lawsuit that is suing the federal government for rolling back the Clean Car Standards and revoking the CA waiver. As always, we will continue working with states to implement supportive state level policies and programs that drive adoption of EVs.

13 comments on “Federal government announces rollback of fuel efficiency standards”
  1. Gary Tomita says:

    Shameful legislation. Washington politicians are looking out for their own financial interest, not their constituents. Oil and ICE manufacturer’s political contributions and lobbying out weigh the public’s health and welfare. I drive an EV and know that my little environmental contribution will help make a difference here in Hawaii. Unfortunately, our local government saw fit to add a $50 surcharge on my yearly car registration. Ev’s are viewed as the new source of revenue to help pay for our road repairs. EV’s make up less than 1% of all registered vehicles in Hawaii. We also have one of the worst roads in the nation and pay some of the highest gasoline taxes among the 50 states. I will now be paying annually more to register my EV than for my pickup truck. Not to mention one of the highest electric rates in the nation.

  2. Jason says:

    Environmental Protection Agency. It’s right there in the name. How could anyone working at that place be happy with this decision? America has really lost their way. It looked like they were pushing the envelope towards EV’s, now it looks like they are dragging the chain.
    First we have China causing COVID19, now we have a 1st World country that can’t even understand the terrible impact we are having on the World.
    Good on CA and all the states that are following their lead, there is hope after all.

  3. Byron says:

    I’m for adopting California’s CARB recommendations for the entire country. As is, Trump is trying to knock down their standards for their own state, as if he has more right to determine their air quality than California does. The whole country needs relief from toxic fumes, and we would save money and pollution by promoting electrics. Trump and his Reps are the enemies of our society, government, and environment.

  4. Shelley L Billik says:

    I second Eileen’s recommendation that Plug In America draft a letter to the EPA, NHTSA, and the President that we can all access, sign, email and publish in every venue possible. This action is bad for public health and the economy….truly shamefull!

  5. Eileen says:

    I would like Plug In America to draft a letter to The EPA, NHTSA, and the President that we can all access, sign and email. It should express our outrage that the government is not only failing to address global warming, but they are actually backing out of prior commitments to reduce the damage we are doing. Let them know that we are watching and they should be ashamed. And they are doing it while everyone is distracted by the COVID 19 crisis! Shameless indeed!

    1. Noah Barnes says:

      Hi Eileen, We agree with you wholeheartedly and Plug In America has been fighting this rollback for years through rallies, action alerts, petitions, comments, and more. We thank the thousands of supporters who have taken action on this issue. Unfortunately, at this point, it is a final rule and our best option for fighting this is the lawsuit against the federal government that Plug In America is part of. More information on that is at https://pluginamerica.org/press-release/enough-is-enough-plug-in-america-to-defend-electric-vehicles-and-join-suit-against-federal-government-over-backwards-proposal-on-clean-car-standards/. Thank you for your support!

  6. Barry Henline says:

    I have always made a point of telling others about the reduced maintenance required by my EV (Chevy Bolt). One guy was startled when I mentioned no oil & filter changes, tune-ups, etc.. not even having thought about that. THEN I pointed out that even small towns have several auto parts stores because ICE car are so complex with water pumps, thermostats, fuel pumps, air filters, mufflers, etc..When I show them Plug Share on my phone they are surprised at how many chargers are close by.

  7. Nadin says:

    Everything this administration does is so backwards…
    Surly it will slow down progress, but can not change overall outcome. Future is in alternative fuels.

  8. Tim Oakley says:

    To PIA: Lead by example what % of staff are driving electric? (I don’t need to know). Instead of lobbying Congress, talk to your neighbor, person on the street, etc. Anybody that asks. I refer people to your catalog of EV’s as a starting point.
    Let oil go to $100 bbl. again. I am weaning myself OFF. (old truck, lawn tractor left),
    1 Converted a houseboat to Ev, 2 rehabbed a Ford Ranger EV (work vehicle), 3 Bought a Mod. X (my fun/ travel car). The Auto mfr. will figure it out (maybe). I gave up on the Big 3 in 2009.
    I’ll leave before I get too caustic. Thank You,T.O.

  9. Pete Bremy says:

    As much as we are concerned for the environment, and indeed I am, I think we should promote EV’s more on their other superior aspects such as fuel and maintenance cost savings, and just being great cars to drive- and oh yeah, they’re clean too. Let the public create the demand, rather than the government force feed. There’s enough to love about EV’s even without concern for the environment. The vast majority of the driving public is still ignorant concerning EV’s. If I had a nickel for every time I hear, “…but where can I charge?” I’d be rich. Educate, educate, educate. The cleaner air will take care of itself. It worked for this old motor head.

  10. Tim Oakley says:

    Eliminate All subsidies for OIL., etc.
    Why should the government be a business partner?
    Government can fund pure research (they do) and the product becomes public knowledge (they do and it is).
    T.O.

  11. David Drake says:

    I agree. I have a Bolt and in traffic especially rush hour I have become so sensitive to air pollution with the constant roll out of electric charging station providers, there will be no excuse not to convert from an ICE vehicle.

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