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October 26, 2018


U.S. EPA Proposes to Eliminate Current Clean Car Standards That Save Consumers Money, Reduce Harmful Emissions & Help Prevent Effects of Climate Change

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general and four major cities to demand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) withdraw their proposal to eliminate the national Clean Car Standards.

In comments submitted today, Madigan and the coalition said the current Clean Car Standards improve fuel economy and require significant, feasible reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. These standards save consumers money and by reducing emissions, they improve health and help prevent the effects of climate change. In fact, they are expected to prevent up to 2,000 premature deaths, 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments, reduce asthma symptoms for the 24 million Americans, including 6.3 million children. In addition, the average consumer should save $1,620 over the lifetime of a car or truck.

“The EPA’s attempt to weaken car emissions standards will increase pollution that harms our environment, health and the economy,” Madigan said. “EPA’s proposal is dangerous to the physical and financial health of all Americans.”

The EPA’s new proposal would throw out these existing standards in favor of a plan that stalls vehicle fuel economy and GHG emission standards for at least six years. The EPA’s proposal poses significant harm to the economy, consumers, public health and the environment. It would degrade air quality and add millions of tons of climate-disrupting pollution into the atmosphere, while costing consumers billions of dollars in additional gasoline to operate less efficient vehicles. The EPA and NHTSA’s plan also blatantly disregards pleas from the scientific community, businesses, and world leaders to regulate GHG emissions.

Experts have warned that rolling back protections such as the Clean Car Standards will aggressively accelerate global warming, leading to wide-ranging consequences including temperature increases, ocean warming, sea level rise, increased hospitalizations and mortality, stress and die-off of animal and plant species, extreme weather events, famine, drought, and forced human migration.

Background on Clean Cars Rule:
Globally, the transportation sector is the fastest growing source of dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the transportation sector has surpassed the electric power sector and is now the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Cars and light duty trucks make up 60 percent of the country’s transportation sector and are the main cause of U.S. dependence on oil, including foreign imports.

Beginning in 2010, EPA, NHTSA, and the California Air Resources Board established a single national program to limit GHG emissions from model year 2012–2025 vehicles. This program allows automakers to design and manufacture vehicles that will comply with tailpipe standards in all states, rather than a regulatory patchwork.

The current federal standards for model year 2022-2025 vehicles are estimated to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons;
  • Remove the equivalent of 422 million cars’ emissions from the road; and
  • Save drivers $1,650 per vehicle.

If enacted, EPA’s proposal to freeze the emissions standards at 2020 levels would:

  • Reduce average fuel economy from an estimated 46.8 miles per gallon in model year 2026 vehicles to 37 miles per gallon;
  • Increase the country’s oil consumption between 5.3 and 11.9 million gallons per day in 2025;
  • Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025; and
  • Cost Americans roughly $193 billion to $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.

In January 2017, after an extensive technical review based in significant part on information from industry, advocates, and other interested parties, EPA determined that the auto industry could readily achieve the 2022-2025 standards. EPA found that “automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previous estimated.” However, in April, EPA arbitrarily reversed course and claimed that the GHG emissions standards for model years 2022–2025 vehicles should be withdrawn. The EPA offered no evidence other than a meager record of self-serving industry analysis to support this decision and deferred further analysis to a forthcoming rulemaking.

Madigan, as part of a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia—who together represent 44 percent of the U.S population and 43 percent of the national new car sales market—sued the agency over its decision to withdraw its prior evaluation supporting the standards.

Now, in its draft proposal, EPA not only proposes to freeze federal emissions standards at 2020 levels but also threatens the authority of states to enforce stronger standards to protect residents. Madigan and several states announced in August their intent to sue the EPA if its new proposal takes effect.


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