The Feds move the wrong way on car mileage standards

The federal government finalized rules at the end of March to rollback car and light truck efficiency standards. This is the wrong direction for protecting our families from automotive air pollution and protecting our planet from climate changing emission.

Nathan Murphy

You might have missed this news with everything else going on; on March 31st, the federal government announced the final rules version of the clean car standards rollback. These new rules roll back fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards in model years 2021 through 2026 for new cars and light duty trucks.

The Obama-era clean car standards were put into place in 2012 with agreement from automakers. The 2012 standards required automakers to meet an average fleetwide fuel economy standard of 54.5 miles per gallon in model year 2025 with other benchmarks leading up to that. These standards were forecast to save roughly 4 billion barrels of oil and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2 billion metric tons.

On behalf of Environment Michigan supporters, I testified at a public hearing in Dearborn in the fall of 2018 against the proposed rules. Out of the hundreds of comments submitted only a couple were supportive of the rules. Yet the agencies drafting the rules moved ahead.

Clearly this is the wrong direction for so many reasons. It will prevent improvements in air quality that the 2012 standards would’ve given us. In part because of automotive emissions, parts of Michigan struggle with air pollution issues leading to increased asthma attacks, strokes, and heart attacks. The 2012 standards were a good step towards protecting our families from air pollution.

It’s also the wrong way on climate change. We know we’re long past due to get serious about climate change, and the 2012 standards were the largest federal action to date to make progress on greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government needs to stop ducking the need for good climate policy.

In short, these rollbacks are bad for our health in the short term, and bad for everyone in the long term. 

The good news is California and other states that use their auto emission standards are suing to block the rules. We’ll see how the case plays out in the courts, and in the meantime we’ll continue our work to electrify transportation and create better transportation options.


Nathan Murphy