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Fuel-Efficiency Rollbacks Called Threat to NV Climate, Air Quality

Las Vegas is one of the fastest-warming and one of the smoggiest cities in America. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
Las Vegas is one of the fastest-warming and one of the smoggiest cities in America. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
August 3, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Trump administration has announced plans to roll back Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, and climate and public-health experts nationwide are sounding the alarm.

The fuel standards, which would have required automakers to meet an average of more than 50 miles-per-gallon by 2025, had been designed to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.

Climate researchers say this is especially concerning for Nevada. Reno and Las Vegas are the first- and third-fastest warming cities in America, according to research group Climate Central.

And if carbon emissions continue as is, Sean Sublette – meteorologist with Climate Central – says Nevada is likely to see a 10 degree temperature increase by the end of the century.

"So all those 100-degree days you have in Nevada now, in Vegas and sometimes Reno, those 100-degree days are going to be 110-degree days. And those occasional 110-degree days will suddenly become 120-degree days," says Sublette.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are proposing to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements at 2020 levels through 2026.

The administration says regulations would have hurt consumers by driving up car prices. But opponents argue vehicle emissions will ultimately cost everyone, in terms of climate disasters and public health effects.

The American Lung Association gives both Las Vegas and Reno failing grades for ozone levels. Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director with the American Public Health Association, says the Trump administration's proposal has the potential to destroy progress toward clean air.

"We know that reducing air pollution is a direct health hazard and not a theoretical one,” says Benjamin. “This proposal by the administration will result directly in more heart attacks, more asthma attacks, more sick kids and more spending out of our pockets for sick care."

Public-health organizations, consumer-rights watchdogs, environmental groups and several states are expected to fight the fuel-efficiency rollbacks. The administration says it will take public comments on the proposal for 60 days.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - NV