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OIRA Must Reject Lower Fuel Mileage Standards That Fail Trump’s Own Cost-Benefit Test

Statement of Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen

Note: Analysis and documents released Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) show that the benefits of President Donald Trump’s proposed fuel mileage rollback would not significantly outweigh the costs.

The centerpiece of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda is that the benefits of new rules must exceed their costs to be approved. But by the administration’s own analysis, the costs of its signature proposal to gut fuel efficiency standards exceed the benefits.

The U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is currently reviewing the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should categorically reject the proposal. According to news reports, a draft version of the final rule makes clear that the projected benefits of the rule are underwhelming, limited and clearly outweighed by the costs to consumers and our environment as a result of dirtier cars that cost more at the pump.

OIRA claims its job is to ensure that rules have benefits that exceed or justify the costs, but the integrity and credibility of its review process repeatedly have been called into question during this administration. The agency has become complicit with politically motivated regulatory rollbacks and has proceeded with deregulatory rules even when they make no sense on cost-benefit grounds or are missing cost-benefit analyses entirely.

If OIRA lets the EPA and the DOT finalize this rule due to political pressure, it will push the credibility of its review process past the breaking point. OIRA must do its job and direct those agencies to re-propose the rule and seek public input – rather than simply finalize it.