U.S. EPA to Revise GHG Emissions Standards for Model Year 2022-2025 Cars and Light Trucks

April 2, 2018

On April 2, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that EPA has completed its Midterm Evaluation process for the existing federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, and determined that the standards "are not appropriate and should be revised." The announcement is the agency’s final determination following the reopening of the mid-term review of the vehicle GHG emissions standards.

The EPA announced it would work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “develop a notice and comment rulemaking to set more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.” No specific timeline was provided for this rulemaking process.

In 2012, the 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 model year 2022-2025 standards. In March 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Chao issued a notice of intent to reconsider the final determination made by the Obama Administration.

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.

Below are statements made by state officials about the EPA’s announced action:

Joint Statement from the Pacific Coast Collaborative by the Governors of Washington, California, and Oregon, and the Mayors of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle

“As members of the Pacific Coast Collaborative and representing a West Coast region of more than 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion, the governors of California, Washington and Oregon, and the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Seattle speak today in unified opposition to the federal decision to weaken the national fuel efficiency standards for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles. This move sets us back from years of advancements by the automotive industry put in motion by states that took the lead in setting emission standards. These standards have cleared the haze and smog from our cities and reversed decades of chronic air pollution problems, while putting more money in consumers’ pockets.

“Our job as governors and mayors is to boost our region’s economic opportunities and to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for our residents and businesses. This decision does the exact opposite, making America more dependent on oil while putting more lives at risk from pollution and shortchanging consumers at the pump.  

“We believe that strong vehicle fuel economy standards not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, but also make us competitive in the growing global market for clean cars. The nation is on track to meet the current standards and will not change course at the expense of our economic strength, health and quality of life.”

Jointly signed by:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee

California Governor Jerry Brown

Oregon Governor Kate Brown

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

Letter to EPA from the Environmental Commissioners of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia

 “As the environmental agency heads for the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia, we write to express our deep concern with your decision to initiate rulemaking to weaken the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for model year (MY) 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles. This decision does not comport with a thorough technical record demonstrating the need for and feasibility of these critical environmental standards. Any weakening of the standards would increase pollution from cars and light trucks, with adverse public health and environmental impacts. Further, it would come at a high cost to consumers forced to pay more at the pump. We strongly urge EPA not to proceed with a new rulemaking, and to leave in place the light-duty vehicle regulations as finalized in 2012.

"These standards, which were established after exhaustive technical analysis and with the full support of industry and states, could in fact be stronger, as improvements to advanced fuel-saving technologies continue to be introduced at a faster pace than envisioned in the rule. States and our nation need to continue to increase efforts to reduce air pollutant emissions, and cars and trucks are among the largest source of these contaminants. The U.S. has always been a world leader in the automobile industry, and part of this success has been the result of government promoting the most advanced vehicle technologies.

"The fundamental principles of cooperative federalism that are embodied in the Clean Air Act (CAA) and other federal environmental statutes recognize the important right of states to go beyond federal requirements when necessary to protect the public health and welfare of their citizens. We strongly urge you to respect California’s independent authority under CAA § 209(b) to set its own motor vehicle standards and the right of other states under CAA § 177 to adopt those standards to meet our environmental challenges. California’s special role has been recognized for the past half century by EPA Administrators on a bipartisan basis and has been a vital part of the architecture of our nation’s response to air pollution. In granting a waiver for California’s existing light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA has already determined that California met its burden under § 209(b). An even stronger waiver case exists today based on the expanding body of scientific evidence establishing the nexus between human activity and climate change. Moreover, there continues to be broad bipartisan support for the authority Congress granted in § 177 to other states to adopt and enforce California standards that are more protective of public health and welfare.

"For these reasons, we strongly urge you to leave both EPA’s current GHG standards for MY 2022-25 and California’s waiver intact.”

Jointly signed by:

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment Commissioner Rob Klee

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin

D.C. Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells

Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Whitman

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore

Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon

Local Leaders' Clean Cars Declaration

"As U.S. attorneys general, mayors and county executives, we – not federal officials in Washington, D.C. – are primarily responsible for the transportation systems upon which our residents and our local and regional economies depend. A clean, efficient and high-performance vehicle fleet is an essential component of these systems.

"We strongly support the current federal standards for such a modern vehicle fleet agreed to in 2012 by the automotive industry, the federal government and the State of California.

"We believe these standards are both necessary and feasible – a conclusion reaffirmed in a major 2016 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board. This study found that auto companies are adopting fuel economy technologies at unprecedented rates and will be able to meet these standards primarily with conventional vehicles. The study also found that the cost of compliance will be similar or lower than anticipated in 2012, with substantial fuel savings payback for consumers. These findings are consistent with a major 2015 study by the National Academy of Sciences.

"All Americans -- not only the residents of the states, cities and counties signing this manifesto -- deserve to enjoy fuel-efficient, low-emission cars and light trucks that save money on gas, improve our health and support American jobs. We strongly urge the auto industry to join us, and to use its influence with the Administration to ensure that these standards remain in place.

"Given our responsibilities to our citizens, we also strongly oppose and will vigorously resist any effort by the Administration to prevent states from enforcing reasonable, commonsense emissions performance standards for vehicle fleets sold in their jurisdictions. Such standards are particularly appropriate given the serious public health impacts of air pollution in our cities and states and the severe impacts posed by climate change, including recent storms, droughts, floods and fires that have hit multiple regions of the U.S. in just the past few years. If the Administration attempts to deny states and cities the basic right to protect their citizens, we will strongly challenge such an effort in court.

"Whatever decisions the Administration may make, we are committed to using our market power and our regulatory authority to ensure that the vehicle fleets deployed in our jurisdictions fully meet or exceed the promises made by the auto industry in 2012. We look forward to cooperating with the auto industry to enable us to achieve this goal. Americans need and deserve clean cars.

"If federal officials obstruct progress on this front, states and cities will pick up the leadership mantle to protect our constituents’ health, support our local economies, and maintain the international competitiveness of the U.S. automotive industry. With the support of the American people, which we already strongly enjoy, we are confident we will prevail."

Jointly signed by:

Attorney General George Jepsen (CT)
Attorney General Karl Racine (DC)
Attorney General Matthew Denn (DE)
Attorney General Tom Miller (IA)
Attorney General Lisa Madigan (IL)
Attorney General Maura Healey (MA)
Attorney General Brian Frosh (MD)
Attorney General Janet Mills (ME)
Attorney General Hector Balderas (NM)
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (NY)
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (OR)
Attorney General Mark Herring (VA)
Mayor Steve Skadron, Aspen, CO
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta, GA
Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley, CA
Mayor David H. Bieter, Boise, ID
Mayor Suzanne Jones, Boulder, CO
Mayor Scott Rogers, Charles Town, WV
Mayor Pam Hemminger, Chapel Hill, NC
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, IL
Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn, College Park, MD
Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, Columbia, SC
Mayor Darcy Paul, Cupertino, CA
Mayor Mark Meadows, East Lansing, MI
Mayor James B. Hovland, Edina, MN
Mayor David Kaptain, Elgin, IL
Mayor John J. Bauters, Emeryville, CA
Mayor Luny Vinis, Eugene, OR
Mayor David Tarter, Falls Church, VA
Mayor Lily Mei, Fremont, CA
Mayor Bruce J. Packer, Glenrock, NJ
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Grand Rapids, MI
Mayor Emmett V. Jordan, Greenbelt, MD
Mayor Luke Bronin, Hartford, CT
Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, TX
Mayor Serge Dedina, Imperial Beach, CA
Mayor Christine Berg, Lafayette, CO
Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach, CA
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, CA
Mayor Wayne Powell, Manhattan Beach, CA
Mayor Alan M. Arakawa, Maui County, HI
Supervisor Rich Parete, Marbletown, NY
Mayor Stephanie M. Burke, Medford, MA
Mayor Jeff Silvestrini, Millcreek, UT
Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis MN
Mayor Arlene Burns, Mosier, OR
Mayor Kristopher Larsen, Nederland, CO
Mayor Toni Harp, New Haven, CT
Mayor David J. Narkewicz, Northampton, MA
Mayor Johnny Johnston, Ojai, CA
Mayor Cheryl Selby, Olympia, WA
Mayor Jim Kenny, Philadelphia, PA
Mayor Deborah Stinson, Port Townsend, WA
Mayor Paul Kuhns, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Mayor Hillary Schieve, Reno, NV
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento, CA
Mayor Jacob R. Day Salisbury, MD
Mayor Rick Bonilla, San Mateo, CA
Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City, UT
Mayor Mark Farrell, San Francisco, CA

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols:

 “This is a politically motivated effort to weaken clean vehicle standards with no documentation, evidence or law to back up that decision. This is not a technical assessment, it is a move to demolish the nation’s clean car program. EPA’s action, if implemented, will worsen people’s health with degraded air quality and undermine regulatory certainty for automakers.

This decision takes the U.S. auto industry backward, and we will vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards and fight to preserve one national clean vehicle program.

Meanwhile, today’s decision changes nothing in California and the 12 other states with clean car rules that reduce emissions and improve gas mileage—those rules remain in place. California will not weaken its nationally accepted clean car standards, and automakers will continue to meet those higher standards, bringing better gas mileage and less pollution for everyone.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra:

“The Trump Administration’s assault on clean car standards risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money. My team is currently reviewing the EPA’s determination and working closely with the California Air Resources Board. We’re ready to file suit if needed to protect these critical standards and to fight the Administration’s war on our environment. California didn’t become the sixth-largest economy in the world by spectating.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

“Maryland has made significant progress in improving our air quality in recent years, and we are a leader in fighting the effects of climate change. That progress would be jeopardized by any weakening of vehicle emissions standards. We strongly urge the EPA to drop their plans to weaken vehicle emissions standards, and we call on the agency to allow our state to continue to adopt strong standards to protect the air that Marylanders breathe.”

Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles

“Maryland is a recognized leader in fighting the effects of climate change, and the Hogan administration opposes efforts to weaken our forward progress on clean cars and a healthy environment. We will use the law and other tools to block rollbacks. EPA should be supporting state and regional actions to cut greenhouse gases and interstate smog.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

“These common sense rules have done more than any other measure to increase miles per gallon, improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and save drivers money on gas. Scott Pruitt has once again illegally handed EPA decision-making over to climate-deniers and fossil-fuel lobbyists, while sticking the American people with dirtier air and higher prices at the pump. Since the public can no longer depend on the EPA to protect their interests, we are working with our state partners to defend the rule.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

“New Jersey will use every tool at our disposal to fight misguided efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back federal fuel emissions standards that save New Jersey consumers money, protect the environment, and drive innovation in the transportation sector.

“We know we can’t win this fight alone, so we are joining with our sister states in efforts to deploy clean vehicles to advance the health of our communities and tackle the largest source of air pollution in our state.”

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

"Once again, the Trump administration is turning its back on our environment and putting our economy, our children and our planet at risk. The proposal to roll back air pollution and fuel economy standards is another shameless giveaway to the dying fossil fuel industry at the expense of our economy and the health of the American people. This plan would upend auto industry regulation in this country, decrease consumer satisfaction with worse gas mileage, jeopardize the rapidly growing clean energy economy and degrade the quality of our air.     

"New York is proud to be leading the way in the fight to reduce emissions, including through our bold commitment to electric vehicles and our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. If the federal government moves forward with this backward plan, we will work with California and other states to preserve our stringent emission standards - ensuring we continue to protect the health of our residents while attracting the clean energy jobs of tomorrow."

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

"By cooking the books on its review of national auto emissions standards, the Trump Administration is putting special interests ahead of New Yorkers’ health and wallets. 

“This illegal rollback of achievable, common sense fuel efficiency and pollution standards for cars will result in higher fuel costs and more dangerous air pollution, including the carbon dioxide that drives climate change – creating real, direct, and damaging impacts on New Yorkers and our environment.

“We stand ready to take legal action to block the Trump administration’s reckless and illegal efforts to reverse these critical standards and the gains we’ve made in ensuring cars are more fuel-efficient and less polluting.” 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

"The EPA’s plan 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 expenditures on gasoline. 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.

"Rolling back these standards will cost consumers every time they fuel up and is another example of the Trump Administration’s disregard for its responsibility to protect the health and safety of American citizens. At a time when advanced manufacturers are expanding in Pennsylvania and developing the next generation of clean vehicle technologies, we need to encourage innovation, not turn back the clock. I strongly urge the EPA to prioritize public health over special interests and abandon this reckless plan to roll back fuel savings standards."

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo

"A strong, national program for the fuel efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from light duty vehicles is vital for providing consumers with the fuel and cost saving choices that they need to access jobs, education, healthcare and economic opportunity. I am deeply concerned that yesterday's decision could lead to a weakening of that program, and strongly support our colleagues in California as they explore the potential use of key authorities under the Clean Air Act that enable states to protect our ongoing progress towards more efficient cars that save consumers money and reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in our air. I hope that, as this process develops into specific policy options through the rulemaking process, federal agencies can reach an agreement with California that protects these important priorities."

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin

"Each week, the EPA announces yet another assault on this country's efforts to improve the air we breathe and to protect our environment. Today's announcement, while not unexpected, is extremely disappointing and damaging to our environment and our innovation economy.

"This decision is short-sighted and pound-foolish as the global automotive market is shifting away from gas guzzlers and toward cleaner, more efficient cars and associated technology. When oil and gas prices rise, which they inevitably will, American automakers will be left flat-footed and in dire financial straits, expecting the government to yet again bail them out..."

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore

“The Agency of Natural Resources is committed to protecting Vermont’s air quality and the health and well-being of Vermonters. Collectively, the cars and trucks we drive are among the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. Stringent vehicle emission standards are critical to our ability to achieve Vermont’s emission reduction goals.”

Vermont Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan, Jr.

“Vermonters want and deserve clean air. These standards are key points in the fight against climate change. They help save consumers money on fuel. For years, Vermont has been a leader on motor vehicle emission standards and let me be clear: Vermont is going to stay committed to clean air and we will take necessary steps to fight this rollback.”