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AG, Health Advocates Oppose Fuel-Efficiency Rollback

Public-health advocates say switching to electric cars will clear the air and help children breathe. (USAF)
Public-health advocates say switching to electric cars will clear the air and help children breathe. (USAF)
August 3, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. – State leaders and health advocates say the EPA's plan to freeze the fuel efficiency standard is bad for public health, the environment and consumers.

After months of wrangling, the EPA Thursday released its plan to freeze the fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks for six years. It was set to increase to an average of 54 mpg by 2025 but will remain at about 35, the standard set for 2020.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro says the state will be joining 19 other states in suing to stop the plan.

"Our state Constitution says that we have a right to clean air and pure water, and that is something that I fight to protect each and every day," he says. "We strongly oppose the Trump Administration's plan to roll back these clean-car standards."

The administration claims freezing the fuel standard will cut more than $2,000 off the price of new cars and result in fewer highway deaths, but opponents contest those findings.

Although more fuel-efficient cars may cost more, consumers make it up through savings on gas by 2030.

According to Doctor Walter Tsou, the executive director of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, increasing the fuel-efficiency standard also cuts back on auto emissions, which are major contributors to smog and air pollution.

"If we roll that back, we're going to continue to burn gasoline in our cars and we're encouraging these gas guzzlers, and all that air pollution is going to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory illnesses," he warns.

Tsou believes moving away from vehicles that rely on fossil fuel entirely would stimulate significant job growth in every state, including Pennsylvania.

"The world is moving toward electric vehicles," he adds. "We should be investing in electric charging infrastructure for this state so that more and more people are ready for the future."

The EPA plan also eliminates California's right to set higher mileage requirements than those of the EPA. Pennsylvania and about a dozen other states now use the higher California standard.

Andrea Sears/Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - PA