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Fuel-Efficiency Rollbacks for Cars, Trucks Trouble Iowa Leaders

The solar e-car charging station at the University of Iowa was built in 2011 and provides charging spaces for up to 20 electric vehicles. (facilities.uiowa.eu)
The solar e-car charging station at the University of Iowa was built in 2011 and provides charging spaces for up to 20 electric vehicles. (facilities.uiowa.eu)
August 3, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Trump administration wants to roll back tougher fuel-efficiency standards on cars and light trucks.

The EPA claims its new proposal to roll back the standards through 2026 means new vehicles would cost about $2,000 dollars less. But other studies have reached opposite conclusions.

Iowa City, led by Mayor Jim Throgmorton, is one of 9,000 cities that joined a global coalition to fight climate change at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit. He says a U.S. rollback won't stop other countries from building cleaner vehicles.

"And I think that this kind of step of retreating on the energy-efficiency standards for vehicles is a backward step that is going to rebound against us,” says Throgmorton, “all of us, in the United States."

There's a 60-day comment period on the EPA's proposal.

The administration also says if cars get fewer miles per gallon – 35 rather than 54 under the tougher standards – people will drive less and that, in turn, would reduce car-crash deaths. But research shows that since the mid-1970s, vehicle miles driven each year have increased and the number of fatal crashes has decreased.

Some automakers, including Ford officials, voiced support for the more stringent, Obama-era clean-car standards. Throgmorton says tailpipe emissions, a major contributor to air pollution and global warming, will now be a bigger factor in climate change and accompanying health problems.

"The evidence is very clear, the climate seems to be changing more rapidly than scientists anticipated even just a few years ago,” says Throgmorton. “And what's being proposed by the administration is at odds with what the car manufacturers' want to do, as best I can judge."

Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, has been an advocate for clean, renewable energy. Hogg thinks only oil-producing countries win when people buy gas-guzzling vehicles – and says keeping fuel-efficiency standards higher would benefit family budgets.

"Not only does it help the consumer directly, who has a more fuel-efficient car, when everybody is using more fuel-efficient cars, that helps keep the price down for everyone," says Hogg.

The EPA's plan would also revoke California's tougher fuel-efficiency requirements, in place since the early 2000s, that have been adopted by about a dozen other states.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA