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Cities, States Support Rising Fuel-Efficiency Standards

Transportation is now the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions. (Pxhere)
Transportation is now the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions. (Pxhere)
August 3, 2018

NEW YORK – City officials and environmentalists say the EPA's plan to freeze the fuel-efficiency standard is bad for public health, the environment and consumers.

After months of wrangling, the EPA on Thursday released its plan to freeze the fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks for six years. It was set to increase to an average of 54 mpg by 2025 but will remain at about 35, the standard set for 2020.

Mark Chambers, director of the New York City's Office of Sustainability, says advancing the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency or CAFE standard is critical to meeting clean-energy goals and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Cities and states around the country know how important the CAFE standards are to being able to make that happen, and we want to see more done to be able to increase the efficiency of vehicles," he says.

The administration claims freezing the fuel standard will cut more than $2,000 off the price of new cars and result in fewer highway deaths, but opponents contest those findings. Although more fuel-efficient cars may cost more, consumers make it up through savings on gas by 2030.

As the former director of the U.S. EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality during the Obama Administration, Margo Oge helped craft the standards, which she notes included input from industry labor and policy groups.

"We're turning a pretty rare win-win program that took us years under President Obama, thousands of hours, and now we're turning it into lose-lose for everyone but the oil industry," she says.

The EPA plan also eliminates California's right to set higher mileage requirements than those of the EPA. New York and about a dozen other states now use the higher California standard.

Transportation is now the biggest source of emissions causing climate change, and Chambers notes that auto emissions are a major source of ground-level air pollution as well.

"We'd like the standards to do what they were intended to do, to help reduce not just the greenhouse-gas emissions but also the localized environmental impacts from air quality," he explains.

New York has joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in a federal lawsuit seeking to preserve the existing fuel-efficiency standard.

Andrea Sears/Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NY