Clean Car Rollback Latest Attack on Environmental and Health Safeguards by Trump Administration

Media Contacts
Anya Fetcher

Environment Maine

Augusta, ME – As the nation faces an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, the Trump Administration continues its efforts to roll back critical science-backed safeguards that reduce pollution, protect the environment, save Americans money, and keep people healthy. 

Environmental and public health advocates in Maine decried the Trump Administration’s latest giveaway to polluters as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation today moved forward with their rollback of clean car standards. Strong limits on tailpipe pollution were first adopted in 2012 to save drivers money and reduce harmful carbon pollution by steadily and reasonably increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. 

In recent weeks, the Trump Administration has also moved to weaken the role of science in decision-making and has relaxed rules for polluters that were in place to protect the environment and improve public health, including suspending enforcement of public health protections.

The clean cars rollback announced today will allow more pollution from cars and trucks, threatening the health of Maine people because it will increase poor air quality linked with respiratory diseases and other harmful health impacts, according to statements issued by Environment Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), Maine Public Health Association (MPHA), and Maine Conservation Voters (MCV):

“Weakening the Clean Car Standards threatens our climate, our health, and the future of our children and grandchildren. When the coronavirus crisis subsides, the climate crisis will still be with us and will continue to accelerate every day that we postpone proactive measures. The Administration should focus its energy on protecting the health and well-being of Americans rather than undermining clean air protections,” said Environment Maine State Director Anya Fetcher.

“Even during a health crisis, the Trump Administration is choosing to protect the profits of fossil fuel companies and corporate lobbyists at the expense of public health. This reckless rollback will make it more expensive for people to drive due to the loss of fuel efficiency and will exacerbate rising health care costs due to increased air pollution. Instead of corporate giveaways that harm the public, we should be investing in healthier, common-sense solutions to climate change that make our communities healthier and more resilient,” said NRCM CEO Lisa Pohlmann.

“The Maine Public Health Association strongly opposes the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Clean Car Standards, which are cost-saving and protect public health. In Maine, we are in the unfortunate position of importing most of our air pollution from other states, worsening our air quality, and increasing the incidence and prevalence of respiratory illness, such as asthma. As a result of the national Clean Car Standards, automobile fuel efficiency has dramatically improved, reducing the impact of oil use, and bettering public and environmental health. Improved fuel efficiency also means Mainers are paying less at the pump, so they have more money to spend on other items, like groceries and heat. Rolling back these standards are bad for the environment, public health, and hardworking Maine families,” said MPHA Executive Director Rebecca Boulos.

“Rolling back Clean Car Standards—critical public health protections that also save every Maine driver money—in the midst of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis is truly the Trump Administration at its worst. This rollback is an abandonment of science, reason, and responsibility at a time when we urgently need sound leadership. It is appalling that the Trump Administration would choose this moment to further endanger people’s health and cost consumers billions of dollars,” said MCV Policy and Partnerships Director Kathleen Meil.

Fossil fuel companies and corporate lobbyists have long pushed to eliminate the measures, even as some car manufacturers opposed weaker standards. Maine is one of 13 states that acted under the Clean Air Act in adopting the stronger standards to reduce tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks. 

After the Trump Administration announced it would roll back the standards, California joined with a small group of carmakers and other states, including Maine, to defend them in court. Several other carmakers have sided with the Trump Administration, choosing to burden Americans financially with cars and trucks that are less fuel-efficient and more costly to drive.

Transportation is the leading and fast-growing source of carbon pollution in Maine and across the country, accounting for 54% of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report, the counties of Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, and Washington experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone pollution than in the previous year.