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Maine Auto Leader: Fuel-Economy Rules Good for Business

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August 3, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Five years after industry, labor and policy groups gathered to create new clean-car rules, the EPA is now taking a U-turn.

On Thursday, the EPA announced a proposed rule that would freeze fuel-efficiency standards to hold them to 2020 levels. It rolls back an Obama-administration requirement to increase the fuel standard to 54 mpg by 2025.

The EPA contends the standards were set too high, and some manufacturers say they are bad for business. But, as the owner of a chain of car dealerships in Maine, Adam Lee says that's not the case.

"The last five years, we've sold more cars than have ever been sold in the history of the auto industry," he says. "It's not just because, but it coincides with these new standards. They're better cars, they're more fuel efficient. It clearly has not dampened sales."

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, while more efficient vehicles cost slightly more, the gas savings outweigh the costs by an average of nearly $3,000 per Maine household by 2030.

Supporters of lowering the emission standards also argue that competition is a better driver of fuel-economy innovation than government regulations.

Lee counters that the rules are needed to keep the U.S. globally competitive.

"We need those manufacturers to keep doing research and building better vehicles like they have been doing," he stresses. "And if they stop because the standards are reversed, it would be bad for us as a business, and for this country."

And he notes that Maine joined several other states this year in suing the EPA to preserve the standards.

"All of those states want to have cleaner cars and cleaner air," he adds. "Those states should have a right to have a stricter standard. If they want to roll them back, then states such as Maine are going to say, 'No, we want this stricter standard.'"

The standards are estimated to increase Gross Domestic Product by up to $30 billion by 2030, creating 650,000 full-time jobs, including 2,900 in Maine.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - ME