Statement by Environmental Defense on New CAF

March 29, 2006
“Today’s fuel economy announcement is disappointing. The Administration opened some of the right doors but hesitated to cross the threshold. 
“The rule was a critical opportunity to address the twin perils of oil dependence and global warming.  On the most important issue, the level of the standard, the Administration increased the standard, but stopped short of what is needed to address these urgent challenges.  The final rule falls short even of what would be dictated by a reasonable and prudent economic analysis.  Despite higher forecast fuel prices, there was little change from the proposal, which had assumed gasoline would stay below $1.59 per gallon through 2025.  Indeed, the final rule calls for a slower rate of progress than the Administration’s previous effort.  Though the standards will help to mitigate oil consumption and global warming, they are not adequate to the task:  similar to cutting the Titanic’s engines slightly as it steams toward the iceberg.
 “We are especially disappointed that the Administration’s decision fails to account for the important benefits of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming.  Essentially, the Administration is saying that it places no value on preventing the serious consequences of climate change, which recent climate research indicates could include the future inundation of cities like Miami and New Orleans, if tipping points are surpassed.
 “Though we are encouraged by inclusion of largest SUVs and passenger vans, the decision not to include the largest pickups suggests that the Administration was unwilling to challenge the myth that largest pickups are used mostly as work trucks.  In fact, our research shows that most drivers of new large pickups use them for commuting and personal trips, and less than 5% of new pickup owners work in agriculture.
“By resolving the longstanding competitiveness concerns that have blocked progress on fuel economy regulations, the structural reform that NHTSA has developed opens the door to strong improvements in the mileage standard.  Unfortunately, the Administration’s rule fails to take full advantage of this opportunity.”