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After Promising to Meet Clean Car Standards, Automakers Ask Lawmakers to Weaken Them

Dec. 12, 2017

After Promising to Meet Clean Car Standards, Automakers Ask Lawmakers to Weaken Them

At Testimony, Industry Will Push to Undo Consumer and Health Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Auto industry assertions – to be delivered today to lawmakers – regarding the achievability, cost and public desire for cleaner vehicles are fact-starved and refuted by the best independent analysis, Public Citizen said today. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear from the industry at its hearing on the “Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles,” known together as the clean car standards.

The standards, which were finalized in 2012 and set mile-per-gallon goals for automakers to meet by 2025, have curbed climate-causing pollution, improved health, saved consumers money at the pump and prompted automakers to innovate and invest. Automakers helped craft the rules and pledged their commitment to meet them.

Now, companies like Ford are trying to have it both ways – advertising themselves as being green but in fact working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to roll back the standards. Ford’s contradictory positions are particularly stark: While Chairman Bill Ford proclaims himself an environmentalist, stating that “climate change is real and a critical threat, and we will continue to work with leaders around the world in support of ambitious global greenhouse gas reduction targets,” his company hides behind the Alliance, whose lobbying efforts threaten to undo the largest federal climate program on the books. The industry today will push lawmakers to loosen the fuel economy standards via H.R. 4011.

“Just 48 hours after the 2016 election, automakers began their campaign to get out of their requirement to build safer, cleaner, more consumer-friendly vehicles,” said Madeline Page, clean cars campaign coordinator with Public Citizen. “They’re taking any avenue available – from President Donald Trump’s executive branch to Congress – to undermine the safeguards they once embraced. This bill retroactively changes the rules for auto manufacturers at the expense of consumers and the health of American families.”

Since the push for seat belt laws in the 1960s, automakers have decried safety standards as too costly or unpopular, but have complied with them while raking in profits. In the case of clean car standards, a Natural Resources Defense Council poll found that 95 percent of Americans want automakers to continue to improve fuel economy, and 79 percent want the government to increase standards. Moreover, automakers are meeting the standards more affordably and faster than predicted, and an ICCT study showed that compliance costs for 2025 standards will be up to 40 percent less than projected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Despite what the auto lobbyists say at today’s hearing, the popular clean car standards are working, and Americans are breathing cleaner air and spending less because of it,” said Page. “Automakers should halt their rollback efforts and instead lead the charge in putting affordable clean vehicles on the road.”

For more information, visit www.forwardnotbackward.org.