EPA Halts Obama-Era Clean Car Standards

Aug 3, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency is making good on plans to halt Obama-era fuel economy standards. It announced a new proposal Thursday that claims to prioritize safety over fuel efficiency. 

The fuel economy standards would have required new cars and light trucks to use less gas over time — reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate issues. But the new proposal puts that on hold for another six years starting in 2020.

The EPA says cleaner cars would cost more — so low-income folks would turn to older, less fuel efficient vehicles that don’t have new safety features. Indiana University law professor and former EPA employee Janet McCabe says the agency’s conclusions are “highly debatable.”

“Seems like a pretty strange conclusion which is that automakers would sacrifice safety for fuel efficiency. They won’t, of course,” she says.

McCabe says the proposal also exaggerates the extent to which people drive more when they know they're saving money on gas.

READ MORE: Environmentalists, Lawmakers Say No To EPA Rollback Of Clean Car Standards

Howard Learner of the Environmental Law & Policy Center says the proposal is a step backward for environmental health, savings at the pump, and the U.S. auto industry.

“Other countries are going to be making the cars of the future, while we’re making the cars of the past and that will lead to us losing jobs and losing competitiveness,” says Learner.

The proposal would also prevent California from setting stricter fuel economy standards through a waiver. 

The public has 60 days to comment on the draft of the new fuel economy standards. 

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.