U.S. EPA and NHTSA Propose to Freeze GHG Emissions and Fuel Economy Standards for Cars and Trucks

August 2, 2018

On August 2, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger vehicles for model years 2021 to 2026.

The Administration’s proposed rule would freeze the vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards at 2020 levels for model years 2021 to 2026. The rule also would revoke the waiver granted to California to establish more stringent standards for vehicle emissions, as well as the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation. Nine other states have adopted the ZEV Regulation, and 13 states and DC have adopted the California emission standards.  

The proposed rule contains eight scenarios for public comment, including the Trump Administration’s preferred option to freeze the standards at 2020 levels through 2026. There is a 60 day public comment period, and the agencies will hold three public hearings on the proposed rule.

In 2012, EPA and NHTSA issued joint greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles for model years 2017-2025. The EPA committed to conducting a mid-term review of the model year 2022-2025 standards by April 1, 2018. In January 2017, the Obama Administration completed the mid-term review and issued a final determination to maintain the existing 2022-2025 standards. The Trump Administration reopened the mid-term review in March 2017, and on April 2, 2018, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the Trump Administration had determined that the standards were “not appropriate and should be revised."

For more information, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Model Years 2022-2025.

The state of California, which has special authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emission standards, worked with EPA and NHTSA in 2012 to develop a single national standard. The California Air Resources Board voted in March 2017 to maintain the 2022-2025 standards after conducting a mid-term evaluation. The Trump Administration's proposed rule would revoke the waiver granted to California for its Advanced Clean Cars program, ZEV Mandate, and GHG regulation.

Below are statements made by state officials about the EPA and NHTSA proposed rule:

California Governor Edmund G. Brown

“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere. Under his reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air. California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy

“Climate change is real and it is here. Rather than acknowledging the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, President Trump’s administration continues to ignore their warnings and recommendations. This president seems intent on leaving an environmental legacy that is aimed at doing irreparable harm our planet, rather than protecting it. We will do everything in our power to defend Connecticut’s right to set appropriate vehicle emissions standards and to protect the air our residents breathe.”

Delaware Governor John Carney

“Delaware is committed to expanding the ability of our citizens to choose clean vehicles. I urge the EPA and the Trump Administration to reevaluate this proposal, which impedes states’ rights and authority to improve air quality, and to consider the long-term economic and environmental impacts from a freeze on vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency standards. Delaware intends to fight this proposal, which would lead to serious setbacks in the state’s efforts to clean up our air and stimulate job creation through clean technology deployment.”

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

"By rolling back emissions and fuel economy standards that auto manufacturers have been successfully implementing for nearly a decade, the Trump Administration is turning a blind eye to technological development and embracing the return of the smog-filled skies of the 60s and 70s. Once again, this administration is putting fossil fuel industry profits ahead of the health and welfare of Americans.

"While Washington, D.C., is locking in yesterday's gas-guzzling technology, New York is investing in the future. We are transitioning to a cleaner and more dynamic transportation system that taps into American-made technology and innovation and will protect against a changing climate.

"In New York, we will resist the Trump administration's attempt to roll back our progress and block our right to require manufacturers sell Zero Emissions Vehicles. We stand with California and other states against the EPA's irresponsible attacks on our right to enforce critical emissions standards. And if the President implements this egregious proposal, we will pursue all legal means to protect our economy, our air quality and our children's future."

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

“Once again, the Trump Administration is siding with big oil and gas companies over families in Pennsylvania. Today’s decision will mean small business owners paying more to transport their goods and get to job sites and families paying more to drive to work or their child’s school. This decision flies in the face of what’s best for consumers and the environment. The EPA’s action to weaken fuel economy standards hurts Pennsylvania’s consumers, workers, and everyone who wants to breathe cleaner air. Fuel economy standards are lowering gas bills, spurring innovation to create jobs, keeping air cleaner, and creating demand for cleaner domestic energy and renewable technology.

“The current standards have led to the development of new technologies, manufacturing innovation, and new jobs throughout the U.S., while reducing consumer costs at the gas pump. These standards were developed with substantial public input and rely on scientific evidence to promote advanced vehicle technologies and reduce air pollution, while saving Pennsylvanians at the pump. Pure and simple, this is a betrayal of the same people the President claims he is fighting for.

“Thanks to the Clean Car Standards, the 2018 Ford F-150 gets better gas mileage than a 2010 Taurus. At a time when advanced manufacturers are expanding in Pennsylvania and more than 7,500 workers in the state are employed in manufacturing the high-tech components of these vehicles and developing the next generation of vehicle technologies, we need to encourage innovation, not turn back the clock.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo

"Weakening the nation's clean car standards will not only cost Americans more at the pump. It will also hurt children and senior citizens and will hinder Rhode Island's ability to meet our own emission reduction targets. Rhode Island has been a leader in addressing climate change and we have no intention of retreating. We will use every tool available to fight the Trump administration's shortsighted changes and continue our momentum toward protecting public health, advancing our green economy, and becoming a more energy efficient and resilient state."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson

“The Trump administration wants to roll back clean car emission standards that have contributed to healthier people, cleaner air and lower gas costs.

“Tailpipe emissions are a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. The reckless actions of this administration threaten the health and safety of our residents, jeopardize progress in the fight against climate change, and will result in higher costs and dirtier skies.

“Emission standards have a proven benefit for everyone, and gutting them will create significant health risks and place an unfair burden on those who breathe air pollution and cannot afford to move away from it.

“We will not stand idly by while this administration attempts to dismantle these critical protections in our fight against climate change. The State of Washington will take all necessary action to preserve our rights to regulate emissions.

“This action goes beyond negligence and failure to protect our environment. It is an outright assault on our state’s ability to protect the people of Washington from the devastating effects of climate change and pollution. We are prepared to go to court to stop this illegal action.”

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser

“1, 2, 3 ... breathe, because thanks to the Trump Admins. proposed roll back of #CleanerCars standards, it may get harder to catch a breath of fresh air. We cannot ignore the facts and wait another day. We must protect our environment.”

“If the Federal Gvt. isn't going to help our country make progress, state and local leaders will. In May, I signed an order to implement the Clean Cars Act of 2008, furthering DC's leadership in the global fight against climate change. #ClimateMayors”

20 State Attorneys General

“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas. The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump. If adopted, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rollbacks will cost American drivers hundreds of billions of dollars. Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states. This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

Jointly signed by:

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen
  • Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn
  • Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki
  • Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
  • Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
  • Maine Attorney General Janet Mills
  • Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh
  • Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
  • New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal
  • New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas
  • New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood
  • North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein
  • Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro
  • Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
  • Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
  • Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
  • Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols

“At first glance, this proposal completely misrepresents costs and savings. It also relies on bizarre assumptions about consumer behavior to make its case on safety. CARB will examine all 978 pages of fine print to figure out how the Administration can possibly justify its absurd conclusion that weakening standards to allow dirtier, less efficient vehicles will actually save lives and money. Stay tuned for further comment. Meantime, California remains fully committed to a rigorous 50-state program with a full range of vehicle choices. That program is in effect right now and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

“The Trump Administration has launched a brazen and unlawful attack on our nation’s Clean Car Standards. The California Department of Justice will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight back. Our nation’s Clean Car Standards save consumers thousands of dollars, protect our families’ health, and ensure that we continue tackling climate change, the most important global environmental issue of our time. We are ready to do what is necessary to hold this Administration accountable.”

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen

“The Trump administration is determined to roll back protections, like these auto emissions standards, that are critical to the health, safety and well-being of Connecticut residents. As a downwind state, Connecticut struggles to maintain our air quality, and lessening standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks nationwide will only exacerbate the problem. My office will continue to work with our partners in other states to aggressively fight this administration's assault on clean air.”

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee

“Today, the Trump administration proposed to bring environmental protection, this time in the form of air pollution standards from cars and light trucks, to a literal standstill. Freezing today’s air pollution standards in place until 2026 will not only cost American families at the gas pump, we’ll also pay for this recklessness as climate forcing pollution, which based on earlier EPA studies could be reduced cost effectively, is dumped into our air while simultaneously American-made technology, which could create jobs and reduce this pollution, sits by idly as the world moves past us yet again. This action makes no sense on any level and Connecticut DEEP will continue to take appropriate action with our partners to protect the air we breathe.”

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin

“EPA’s proposal would further thwart our efforts to achieve better air quality and, just like what Delawareans face in out-of-state pollution crossing our borders, would be detrimental to public health, and hurt Delawareans in our wallets, too. But whatever the outcome of EPA’s proposal, Delaware will continue to manage environmental programs and enact policies that foster transportation innovation and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.”

U.S. Climate Alliance

“The United States needs strong clean car standards that reduce vehicle pollution and improve efficiency to protect our health, environment and climate, while strengthening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and creating American jobs. We oppose efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to weaken the nation’s clean car standards, and we strongly support the 18 jurisdictions representing 140 million Americans that are suing to defend these standards.  We also support preserving State flexibility to adopt standards more protective than federal standards.

Weakening the nation’s clean car standards will not only cost Americans more at the pump, but hurt children, senior citizens and people living with respiratory illness, and will impede the ability of our states to meet our own emission reduction targets. The Alliance will hold strong to our commitment and state leadership to meet our share of the U.S. emissions reduction contribution to the Paris Agreement.”