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Groups Contend Rolling Back Auto Emission Standards will Hurt IA

At a time when the nation is dealing with a pandemic, environmental groups say the Trump administration creates a risk of more premature deaths by weakening auto-emission standards. (Adobe Stock)
At a time when the nation is dealing with a pandemic, environmental groups say the Trump administration creates a risk of more premature deaths by weakening auto-emission standards. (Adobe Stock)
April 1, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa. -- Environmental groups say Iowa residents will feel the harmful effects of weaker auto-emission standards now moving forward under the Trump administration. On Tuesday, White House officials announced a new rule requiring a 1.5% increase in efficiency through 2026, much lower than the current standards.

Iowa may not have a lot of clogged freeways, but Morgan Folger, director of Environment Iowa, said her group's research suggests a number of cities still have air-quality issues.

"In the Cedar Rapids area and in Council Bluffs, Iowa, people lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of bad air," she said. "So, even though there are other states where you see more transportation, the fact is that Iowans are still impacted by harmful air pollution from our cars and trucks."

Folger said air pollution contributes to climate-change issues in Iowa as well, such as severe flooding.

The Trump administration argued that the higher standards were too expensive for automakers to meet, but many car companies already are on track to make adjustments that are tougher than what the administration is asking.

In addition to environmental concerns, opponents of the move have said it also will lead to higher fuel costs. Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he thinks it doesn't make sense to make these changes now.

"Why are they even messing with this policy in the first place? This is the strongest climate policy in effect today, and it's working to deliver cleaner vehicles that cut fuel use and emissions," he said. "Ending it now is a choice to accelerate climate change, furthering one global catastrophe in the middle of another."

The lower emissions standards are expected to face a host of legal challenges in the months to come. The Trump administration already is involved in a legal battle with California over that state's tougher standards.

The rule change is online at nhtsa.gov.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA