Carper on Move to Undermine Clean Car Standards: “The Trump Administration’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory continues to amaze me”

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, blasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to roll back Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards that have proven successful. The proposal weakens standards beyond the request of any automaker and preempts the historic authority of California to set and enforce its own greenhouse gas tailpipe standards as well as that of the 12 additional states, including Delaware, that have adopted them.

“The Trump Administration’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory continues to amaze me. Repeatedly, I have urged this administration to seize the opportunity that has been handed to it on a silver platter and craft a win-win proposal that stakeholders have explicitly asked for — one that keeps the American auto industry competitive, creates more good paying jobs here at home, while protecting our environment. Instead, this administration has, once again, ignored the obvious right answer and decided to listen to the most extreme voices as it pushes through a plan that no one is interested in — with the exception of the oil industry, perhaps.

“For those who foolishly chose to undermine successful fuel economy standards, here are some facts. Our transportation sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Blocking reasonable efforts to address the pollution that we know comes from the cars and trucks we drive is willful ignorance. Another fact is that, to be successful, any business needs certainty and predictability. What President Trump is proposing does just the opposite. American automakers are trying to compete in a global economy in which competitors are manufacturing more affordable and efficient vehicles because that is what consumers are demanding. By doubling down on the dirty vehicles of the past, President Trump is delivering yet another blow to automakers that have made clear that, going forward, they need to build vehicles for a world market and all 50 states.

“But as Winston Churchill famously said, ‘This isn’t the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning.’ While today’s decision is deeply disappointing and misguided, the fight is far from over. Based on what all stakeholders involved have expressed, there is undoubtedly a deal to be had here. The road map couldn’t be more clear: provide near-term flexibility and predictability for the auto industry with respect to fuel economy standards in exchange for more rigorous standards going forward and continued incentives to develop electric and other advanced technology automobiles, all while avoiding years of unnecessary litigation with California and other states. That would be a win for American businesses, the health of our planet and future generations and consumers. President Trump claims he’s a great negotiator. Now is the time to prove it by bringing automakers and the state of California together to work toward consensus before we head down a costly and unnecessary dead-end road.”

Today’s proposal shows EPA and DOT’s intent to:

  • Dramatically weaken fuel economy standards by freezing model year 2020 standards through model year 2026;
  • Exclude air conditioning refrigerant leakage, nitrous oxide and methane emissions from tailpipe CO2 compliance standards in all considered scenarios, which has the effect of rolling back the stringency of the EPA tailpipe standards to 2018 levels.  The proposal also phases out air conditioning and other credits from being used to comply with fuel economy standards in some considered scenarios;
  • Preempt California’s authority to designate independent tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), and withdraw California’s Clean Air Act clean car and electric vehicles waivers;
  • Assert that the statutory requirement to consider energy conservation when setting fuel economy standards is no longer needed;
  • Knowingly increase air pollution of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, resulting in “increased adverse health impacts (mortality, acute bronchitis, respiratory emergency room visits, and work-loss days) nationwide;”
  • Claim increased costs of fuel-efficient technologies without justification;
  • Rely on several outdated and disproven assumptions about vehicle safety and driving habits; and
  • Minimize the impact of increasing fuel economy standards on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change tied to global temperatures, atmospheric concentrations of CO2, sea level rise and other impacts in 2100.