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White House Lacks Public Support for Dangerous Clean Cars Rollback

Oct. 26, 2018

White House Lacks Public Support for Dangerous Clean Cars Rollback

As the Trump Administration Closes the Door on Public Input, 300,000 Citizens Join Lawmakers and Experts to Condemn a Rollback

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the window closed today for the public to weigh in on the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, Public Citizen – and more than 13,000 of its activists – urged the administration to keep the standards in place. Public Citizen staff and activists have mobilized to condemn this rollback – testifying at hearings on the rule in Fresno, Calif., Dearborn, Mich. and Pittsburgh, waging letter-writing campaigns to local newspapers and holding events across the country.

The proposal, unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in August after more than 18 months of lobbying by the auto and oil industries, would freeze vehicle standards at 2020 levels.

The proposal also would revoke a waiver that allows California and other states to set more stringent tailpipe pollution standards to protect their citizens, which 13 states and the District of Columbia have done or committed to do so far.

“The administration appears to be set on rollback autopilot,” said Madeline Page, clean cars campaign coordinator for Public Citizen. “Despite no discernable winners other than Big Oil, Trump’s environmental and transportation agencies are on a destructive race to the bottom that will cost consumers billions at the gas pump, endanger public health and undo our country’s most effective climate program.”

Support for the clean car standards is widespread. Nearly seven in 10 voters want the standards to remain intact, and more than 300,000 comments from Americans across the country condemning the rollback have been submitted to the docket. They were joined by 150 members of Congress, 17 governors, 20 state attorneys general and elected officials representing more than half of the U.S. auto market.

In addition to its members’ outpouring of opposition to the rollback, Public Citizen has submitted comments jointly with other public interest, consumer and environmental organizations explaining the legal and scientific flaws in the agencies’ proposal. As the comments explain, the proposal violates the EPA’s obligation to take action against pollutants that endanger the public and NHTSA’s mandate to issue maximum feasible fuel economy standards. The rollback also fails to satisfy the basic rulemaking requirement that agencies offer a rational explanation for their actions, especially when they contradict the agencies’ own previously stated positions.

“The flaws in this proposal are many and fatal,” said Scott Nelson, a Public Citizen attorney. “Perhaps the worst is that the agencies acknowledge that their proposal will increase emissions of the greenhouse gases that are driving global climate change, but offer the lame excuse that maintaining more stringent standards won’t by itself eliminate the problem. We can’t afford to have regulatory agencies refuse to take steps to address a global catastrophe just because no single step will be sufficient by itself.”

In 2011, automakers, labor groups and environmentalists stood beside President Barack Obama as he announced the new clean car standards. The rules already are delivering benefits and if uninterrupted would: