This week the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change held a joint hearing entitled “Driving in Reverse: The Administration’s Rollback of Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards.” In an effort to combat climate change, remain competitive globally in the automotive industry, improve air quality standards, and keep jobs for American’s, the subcommittees explored the Administration’s proposed roll back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for Model Year (MY) 2021-2026 light-duty cars and trucks.
The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks to reduce fuel consumption and encourage Americans to invest in clean, more efficient vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for vehicles under the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA). Additionally, under the same law, the EPA may grant waivers of preemption that would allow a state to implement its own standards, as it has done with California many times. Due to overlap, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would be working together to standardize CAFE and GHG standards, as well as California standards, rather than automakers adhering to a patchwork of regulations.
Under the Administration, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would reconsider the final decision from 2017 for CAFE and GHG standards. In 2018 the agencies submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for MY 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, that would maintain current standards through MY 2020 but would freeze the standard after that and withdraw California’s waiver. Subcommittee members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns regarding the rollback arguing that the rule would eliminate approximately 60,000 jobs from the automotive industry, CO2 emissions, gasoline and oil consumption would increase, ultimately decreasing the quality of air for Americans, increasing the number of auto-related deaths per year, and costing consumers more money. Representatives from NHTSA and the EPA did not agree.
To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.