Retreating on Clean Cars is Wrong for America

March 15, 2017
Keith Gaby, 202-572-3336,

(Washington, D.C. – March 15, 2017) The Trump Administration’s decision to reconsider critical vehicle emission standards for cars will create uncertainty, slow innovation and hurt U.S. economic leadership. Americans want cleaner cars and lower bills at the gas pump — and these forward-looking standards are delivering. The Administration is wrong to doubt the ability of American workers and engineers to produce the most advanced and cleanest cars in the world.

“Americans can out-compete anyone in the world if we set smart goals,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “The administration is making a mistake to retreat on the standards and let other countries take the lead in developing the next generation of cars. If President Trump continues down this path, it will mean higher gas bills for families, more pollution, more dependence on oil, and less innovation. Our economy needs to go forwards not backwards.” 

The Clean Cars Program will eliminate an estimated six billion metric tons of carbon pollution over the life of the vehicles subject to the standards, which is more than a year’s worth of U.S. carbon emissions. And thanks to these standards, the 86 percent of Americans who finance their vehicle with a five-year loan will immediately realize the cost savings from cleaner, more efficient vehicles — thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a vehicle.

The standards will also enhance our nation’s energy security by reducing oil consumption by two million barrels per day by 2025 – more than we import from any single country other than Canada. As these cleaner vehicles become a greater percentage of the nation’s fleet, oil savings will grow and ultimately reach more than 4 million barrels per day – almost as much as we import from all OPEC countries combined

Security experts agree that our nation’s dependence on oil is a threat to security, and that cleaner cars and trucks will help reduce that threat. As Ret. Lt. General Richard Zilmer has said, “Over-reliance on oil ties our nation to far-flung conflicts, sends our troops into harm’s way, and endangers them once they’re in conflict zones. Ensuring that the cars and trucks we drive every day go farther on every gallon of gas makes our nation stronger.”

During the height of the economic recession in 2008, the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse. This prompted the Obama Administration to develop a bailout package for the industry, which provided the boost the industry needed to help rebound. Last year, drivers in the United States bought more cars than ever before – roughly 70 percent more vehicles than during the recession – as fuel economy rose to its highest levels yet.  

In total, the auto industry has added nearly 700,000 direct jobs since the recession – supporting several million indirect jobs throughout the economy. Auto manufacturing jobs account for 40 percent of all net jobs added in U.S. manufacturing since the recession.

In a letter supporting EPA’s proposal to reaffirm the Phase II standards, the UAW noted “UAW members know firsthand that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards have spurred investments in new products that employ tens of thousands of our members.” 

Going backwards in the race to produce the world’s cleanest, most advanced cars is a mistake.

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