EPA Moves to Lower Emissions Standards, Gas-Mileage Targets
DENVER – On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was rolling back fuel-economy rules put in place during the Obama administration.
The proposal would lower tailpipe emissions standards and require new cars and light trucks to get 37 miles per gallon by the year 2025, down from 54 miles per gallon under the previous rule. Danny Katz, director for the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, says the move will ultimately hurt Coloradans at the gas pump.
"It drives up the costs of driving,” says Katz. “And we've seen the positive impact that these clean-car standards have had. Coloradans have saved an estimated $550 million at the pump since these standards have been put in place."
The Obama-era standards, adopted in 2012, are projected to cut as much carbon pollution as over 130 coal-fired power plants, and save drivers more than $1,600 per vehicle. Now the EPA says the standards were set too high for manufacturers, and claims higher costs for more efficient vehicles would lead people to keep older, less safe cars on the road longer.
There's a 60 day public comment period for the proposed change.
The EPA's own scientists, along with outside experts, have debunked the Trump administration's safety and cost projections. EPA scientists also say higher standards are achievable and would benefit public health.
Anita Seitz, a councillor on the Westminster City Council, adds local government efforts to improve air quality – by offering free electric charging stations, for example – work better when done in tandem with federal policy.
"American innovation is something that I'm really proud of, and I think that's a shared value probably that most of us have,” says Seitz. “And when we send the right signals to the market and to the engineers, it's amazing what can be accomplished."
The new proposal would also stop California and other states from setting higher efficiency standards than the federal government. In June, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order committing the state to adopt lower emission standards that would cut carbon pollution by 26 percent by the year 2025.