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EPA Fuel-Efficiency Rollback Called a Bad Deal for Everyone

Hartford has the highest rate of asthma in Connecticut, and one of the highest rates in the country.  (USN/Wikimedia Commons)
Hartford has the highest rate of asthma in Connecticut, and one of the highest rates in the country. (USN/Wikimedia Commons)
August 3, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. – City officials and environmentalists 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 on 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.

According to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, rolling back the standard will mean more auto emissions, more air pollution and more health problems in the Nutmeg State.

"As mayor of a city where a lot of kids suffer from asthma, this is going to have a real difference on the health and well-being of our kids and of our community," he warns.

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.

As the former director of the U.S. EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality during the Obama Administration, Margo Oge helped craft the standards, which she notes included input from industry labor and policy groups.

"We're turning a pretty rare win-win program that took us years under President Obama, thousands of hours, and now we're turning it into lose-lose for everyone but the oil industry," she says.

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

Although more fuel-efficient cars may cost more, the savings on gas will outweigh that by more than $2,700 per Connecticut household by 2030.

And Bronin notes that rolling back the standard would carry a heavy price tag.

"The cost to our climate is immeasurable, and the cost to our community can be measured, I think, in millions of dollars but also in its impact on children's lives," Bronin adds.

Connecticut has joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in a federal lawsuit seeking to preserve the existing fuel-efficiency standard.

Andrea Sears/Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - CT