(Washington, D.C. – June 3, 2019) EPA’s refusal to publicly release crucial materials related to its proposal to rollback America’s Clean Car Standards means the proposal should be withdrawn, or at least reopened, according to comments filed with the agency by EDF and its allies.
The administration has refused to let the public see the latest OMEGA model – even though the model’s calculations have long been used to assess clean car protections. EDF and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the information. EPA did not fulfill that request as the law requires, and the two groups have filed a lawsuit in the matter that is now pending in court.
EDF and NRDC joined the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday to file formal comments with EPA urging it to reconsider its proposed rollback in light of the lawsuit and the underlying missing critical information:
“[T]he flawed Proposed Rule must be withdrawn. At minimum, EPA must release the latest full version of OMEGA, place it in the SAFE rulemaking docket, and then reopen the formal comment period for at least 60 days so that the public may respond to this critical information. Finalizing the Proposed Rule without these steps would be arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.” (Comments, page 7)
The Clean Car Standards have been in effect since 2012. They reduce climate pollution, improve fuel efficiency and save American families money at the pump. The Trump administration is trying to drastically weaken them.
Public records indicate the latest version of the OMEGA model would show the current Clean Car Standards can be achieved by automakers at a substantially lower cost than alleged by the administration. But the administration has refused to release the model and their rollback proposal completely disregards its existence. Instead, the proposed rollback is based on a different and conflicting model – the CAFE model.
“EPA has not disputed that the results of its own modeling, which it presented to the White House Office of Management and Budget as part of interagency review of the Proposed Rule, undermine the CAFE model analysis underlying the Proposed Rule … When the agency applied its own, purpose-built and peer-reviewed OMEGA model to the [proposal], its results diverged from those of the CAFE model … Yet despite … its own expert analysis diverging from the CAFE model’s results, EPA relied exclusively on the CAFE model in the Proposed Rule.” (Comments, page 4)
In fact, EPA proposed to rely exclusively on the CAFE model even though its staff had not been given critical information about the assumptions underlying that model – a point underscored in a recent memo published by EPA’s Science Advisory Board.
The Trump administration’s own analysis found that its proposed Clean Cars rollback would result in eight billion more tons of climate pollution and 60,000 lost jobs. A broad coalition has spoken out against rolling back the Clean Car Standards – including 18 states and the District of Columbia, a coalition of cities and counties, energy companies and other businesses, and even auto manufacturers. But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said the rollback may be finalized this summer.
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