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Maine Car Dealer Speaks Out Against Lowering MPG Standards

A Maine car dealer is among those voicing opposition to the EPA proposal to put a rollback of clean-air and fuel-efficiency standards back on the table. (
A Maine car dealer is among those voicing opposition to the EPA proposal to put a rollback of clean-air and fuel-efficiency standards back on the table. (
September 8, 2017

LEWISTON, Maine – The Environmental Protection Agency wants to reopen its review of fuel-efficiency requirements, but the owner of car dealerships all across Maine says that move would benefit automakers at the expense of consumers and taxpayers.

Adam Lee, who heads up Lee Auto Malls, says this is the wrong time to be even thinking about rolling back fuel-efficiency and clean-car standards. He says in addition to highly fuel-efficient vehicles, he also sells plenty of trucks and SUVs. They are popular in a rural state such as Maine, but he adds that does not mean consumers are opposed to getting better gas mileage.

"In the last five years, we've made tremendous progress," he says. "All the manufacturers now have vehicles that get much better fuel economy than they used to, and all of the electric cars coming out to market - if they roll back these standards, I think that will come to an end."

Critics say clean-car standards place too much of a burden on manufacturers. However, last year's review, in which the car companies were involved, found the standards to be reasonable and affordable for both consumers and automakers. The review also estimated those supposed burdens were overestimated by as much as 40 percent.

Lee just penned an opinion piece in USA Today and says a whole new crop of electric cars coming to market now get 150 to 200 miles on a charge.

Fuel-efficiency standards keep American manufacturers competitive, according to David Cooke, a vehicle specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says those standards save billions of barrels of oil and reduce fuel costs to consumers.

"We're saving about $50 million a day thanks to the standards that are on the books, and as long as we stay the course, by 2030 that number will grow to over $300 million per day," he explains.

Maine often is dubbed as being the tailpipe of the nation because residents are vulnerable to vehicle emissions from the Northeast.

Joseph Minott, executive director and chief counsel of the Clean Air Council, says the standards have been helping clean up the air.

"It reduces greenhouse gases, it reduces the precursors to ozone smog, it means that we're using our cars more efficiently," Minott says. "It's a win-win-win program."

Maine's Attorney General Janet Mills has threatened to sue the EPA should it roll back standards on greenhouse-gas emissions from cars.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME