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EPA Trying to Put Brakes on Clean-Car Standards

The EPA announced a review of clean car standards that could result in their rollback. (highway england/flickr)
The EPA announced a review of clean car standards that could result in their rollback. (highway england/flickr)
September 7, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Standards are on track to double the nation's fuel efficiency by 2025 and save consumers as much as $122 billion over the lifetime of vehicles once they're fully implemented. But the Trump administration may bring that progress to a screeching halt with Tuesday's announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that it will reopen a review of clean car standards.

Katherine Stainken, policy director at Plug In America, said this latest announcement is a veiled attempt to roll back standards.

"There's a new administration in place and they're seizing on this opportunity to go back and renege on agreements that were put in place fairly on all sides of the table back in 2012,” Stainken said.

Less than a year ago, agencies completed a similar review, involving thousands of hours of analysis and taxpayer dollars.

Critics of clean car standards say they place a cost burden on auto manufacturers, but the review completed in 2016 estimated those costs were overstated by as much as 40 percent.

With more than 1,000 miles of interstate highways in Tennessee, the Volunteer State has a demand for fuel-efficient cars, said Anne Blair with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

"We need to continue to move forward to increase newer technology getting in the hands of Tennesseans,” Blair said. “And without these standards, it's going to be less incentive for automakers to continue to move forward with those technological advancements."

David Cooke, senior vehicle analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the potential reduced availability of fuel efficient cars will negatively impact consumers.

"Reducing the emissions from the average vehicle saves money from reduced fuel costs for drivers, whether they buy new or used, as these new vehicles make their way onto the market,” Cooke said. "So Americans benefit tremendously in their pocketbooks."

Tennessee is among the five states that see the most employment from manufacturing of fuel-efficient vehicles, with the sector supporting 160,000 jobs across those five states. More than 300,000 comments already have been submitted to the EPA in support of existing standards.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN