Ann Mesnikoff

Trump Administration’s New Clean Car Proposal is Like Putting Lipstick on a Pig

The Trump administration’s rollback of Clean Car Standards is officially out for public comment.

The administration’s preference for stalling standards is a shameful effort to undermine the biggest single step the U.S. can take to curb climate pollution and make new cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas. Calling this the “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule” is at best putting lipstick on a pig balancing on a house of cards.

For some context, just six years ago, in August of 2012, the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency, along with California, announced Clean Car Standards to ensure that new cars, minivans and pickups sold between 2017 and 2025 would continually improve – using less gasoline to travel a mile and emitting less climate pollution out of the tailpipe. If fully implemented, they would save families up to $122 billion at the pump, save more than 12 billion barrels of oil and keep 6 billion metric tons of dangerous carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. Across the Midwest we’d save approximately 55 billion gallons of oil through 2030. Rather than letting these standards continue in place, the current administration is proposing to freeze them at 2020 levels through 2026.

Stalling standards could cost the average American family as much as $500 per year at the gas pump, and low income drivers and those who need to drive long distances would be the hardest hit. Rather than cutting carbon pollution, we would see over 2.2 billion metric tons of cumulative additional carbon pollution by 2040 (as much carbon pollution as 480 million average American cars emit in a year), and nearly 200 billion gallons of cumulative additional gasoline consumption by 2040.

Almost daily, we are seeing the arguments underpinning the Trump proposal come apart – from flawed analysis about how much it costs to put technology to work to cut oil use and pollution, to faulty claims about vehicle safety. They grossly exaggerated claims about how much driving owners of new more efficient cars would do because of savings at the pump, or how many miles people would drive older, less efficient cars. The problems with this proposal run so deep that experts at EPA called aspects of DOT’s model “indefensible.” Further, EPA’s internal analysis suggested that freezing the standards would increase fatalities, cost jobs, and overall cost $83 billion. Emails show EPA experts did not even want EPA’s logo to appear on the analysis that accompanies the plan to freeze standards.

The fact is that Clean Car standards are driving innovation and job growth in the clean car sector. Across the Midwest, there are a total of 151,714 jobs in 480 facilities associated with making cleaner vehicles. ELPC has made clear that strong Clean Car Standards matter in the Midwest. They are a key policy in reducing the threats climate change poses to the Great Lakes and the region and important for achieving clean air to breathe. It seems the only winner with a freeze is Big Oil – even the Trump administration admits their plan would increase oil consumption by 500,000 barrels of oil every day!

It’s time to gear up for the fight. Look out for information on how you can help us tell EPA and DOT that this plan is a wrong turn for America.

Ann Mesnikoff,

Federal Legislative Director

Ann Mesnikoff is the federal legislative director at ELPC, working in Washington, D.C., with the Midwest Congressional Delegation and national coalitions to advance supportive clean energy, clean water and clean air, and transportation reform policies.

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