PNS Daily Newscast - May 17, 2019 

West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

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Consumer Groups, Auto Dealers: Don’t Roll Back MPG Standards

Business and consumer groups are resisting a federal proposal to roll back vehicle MPG standards. (Pixabay)
Business and consumer groups are resisting a federal proposal to roll back vehicle MPG standards. (Pixabay)
September 25, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Trump administration is reopening the issue of fuel economy standards. But the message from a coalition including car dealers and consumer groups is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The Environmental Protection Agency held its only hearing earlier this month on what observers expect to be an effort to loosen the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Adam Lee is a third-generation auto dealer and chair of the largest chain of dealerships in the state of Maine. He said for decades, automakers have said they can't meet CAFE standards, but then they do - and at less than their projected costs.

"When seat belts were required, they said, 'Cars will cost too much and people won't use them,’” Lee said. "And the same could be said every time - unleaded fuel or airbags or anti-lock breaks - they have always claimed cars will cost too much and that no one cares."

The CAFE standards set the average miles per gallon vehicle makers have to hit within a given year. Lee said the car makers and people opposed to all regulation are the only ones pushing the EPA to change them.

The Trump White House has described the move as part of a broad rollback of regulations.

Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said the standards were put in place in the 1970s and tightened several times since, and he says they're hugely popular with the public. He said by one estimate, they'd save a two-car family $3,500 over the life of their vehicles - making CAFE a big consumer issue, as well as a cheap, popular and effective way to reduce pollution.

"The cost of driving goes down, consumers are better off, and lo and behold - it's the cheapest way to reduce carbon,” Cooper said. "Here's a program that's been around for 45 years or so, and has worked really well, and it shouldn't be abandoned."

He added despite car makers' protests, meeting past CAFE standards hasn't hurt sales. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation - the group that helped expose the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal - the costs to meet the standards are being overstated by as much as 40 percent.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA