Trump Administration Throws America’s Clean Cars Standards into Reverse

EPA is Reopening the Agency’s Final Determination that U.S. Clean Car Standards Are Sound

August 10, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – August 4, 2017) The Trump Administration today announced a plan to throw America’s Clean Car Standards into reverse, imperiling climate security and economic prosperity for our communities and families. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced formal steps to begin reconsidering the greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars and passenger trucks for model years 2022 to 2025.

“The Clean Cars Standards strengthen U.S. energy security, save families money at the gas pump, keep American car manufacturers and workers competitive, and reduce the pollution that causes climate change. Weakening them puts America on a road to nowhere,” said Jason Mathers, Director of On-Road Vehicles for Environmental Defense Fund. “We will strenuously oppose any effort to reverse our nation’s journey toward cleaner, more fuel efficient cars and trucks.” 

EPA and DOT finalized the second phase Clean Car Standards in 2012. Under the standards, new cars and passenger trucks in model years 2017 to 2025 would have better fuel efficiency and would emit less pollution. The standards were adopted with broad support from automakers, labor, states, consumers, and environmental advocates.

EPA also committed to undertake a midterm evaluation of the standards for the later model year cars. That evaluation, which was based on an extensive technical record and public input, found that technologies are developing more quickly and at even lower costs than EPA originally projected – making the standards for the later model years appropriate and even more feasible than was first thought. 

In January of 2017, EPA completed its review and issued a final determination confirming that the standards covering model years 2022 to 2025 should remain in place. The state of California also conducted its own extensive review and came to the same conclusion.

In spite of the rigorous technical analysis and public input that went into those reviews, EPA and DOT – in a reckless U-turn – announced today that that they will formally reopen the final determination. That could ultimately lead to radically weakening or revoking the Clean Cars Standards for model years 2022 to 2025. Further damaging U.S. climate security, EPA and DOT is calling into question whether the standards for model year 2021 remain appropriate. 

The first step will be a comment period that will last 45 days, beginning when the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Reopening the final Clean Cars Standards will create uncertainty, slow innovation and hurt U.S. economic leadership. 

The American public also stands to lose vital benefits if the Clean Cars Standards are reversed:

  • Under the standards already in place, people who bought a new car or truck in 2025 would save thousands of dollars on fuel over the lifetime of those vehicles. In total, EPA projects that consumers would save more than $1 trillion because of the standards.
  • The Clean Cars standards would reduce America’s oil consumption by two million barrels per day by 2025 – more than we import from any single country other than Canada.
  • The Clean Cars program would 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. 

The Trump Administration’s threat to undermine the Clean Cars Standards comes at a time when both the U.S. and world automotive markets are moving in the opposite direction.

In the U.S., electric vehicles are on pace to comprise 10 percent of new vehicle sales by 2025, and there are already more than 100 car and truck models on the market with standard internal combustion engines that meet the 2020 or later Clean Cars Standards. Auto manufacturers and suppliers are developing and deploying fuel efficient technologies at a much faster rate – and at a much lower cost – than was forecast in 2012, which has resulted in the auto industry as a whole exceeding the Clean Cars Standards in each of the last four years.

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