Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt recently announced that the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for future vehicle fleets will be revised, reversing a rushed midnight regulatory push in the final days of the Obama administration that would have made vehicles more expensive and less safe. ATR applauds this decision, which moves in the direction of reducing the burden of an unnecessary and complicated government mandate.
ATR was proud to join other organizations in urging this important reform. The coalition letter can be read here.
The CAFE standards program is an outdated regulation dating back to the 1970’s, originally developed to conserve oil during the embargo. Today, it exists as a tool for unelected federal government regulators to shape consumer behavior through controlling the types of cars automakers are allowed to sell. The standards require each fleet of vehicles, by model year, to meet an average mile per gallon standard set by officials at the EPA.
In 2012, the EPA announced new standards for Model Years 2017-2025, with a mandatory review in 2018 to determine if the standards should be revised. These standards required automakers to manufacture a fleet of cars that must reach a total average of 54.5 miles per gallon. In the days leading up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, President Obama’s EPA rescheduled the mandatory review to January 2017 and released a “report” upholding the stringent original standards day before President Obama vacated office.
Upon entering office, Administrator Pruitt reopened the process to receive public comments, hold hearings, and receive additional information to properly conduct the review. Based on this information, the EPA determined the Obama standards were not appropriate and are revising them to ensure automakers can manufacture affordable cars.
The decision to revise the draconian standards serves as a win for American drivers and consumers.
To comply with the standards, automakers would have had to have manufactured a greater number of electric vehicles and created new designs for significantly smaller vehicles. The Heritage Foundation estimates these actions would have added a whopping $7,200 to the price of the average new car.
The original standards also would have significantly increased roadside casualties and injuries. In order to achieve a higher fuel efficiency, automakers have to continually decrease the size and weight of automobiles. However, larger and heavier automobiles are better able to absorb the impact of a collision and provide extra cushion space in the event of a collision. The National Academy of Sciences conducted research concluding the CAFE standards contributed to between 1,300 and 1,600 deaths a year and about ten times as many injuries.
Moreover, the standards significantly interfere with a consumer’s basic right to choose the best product. By limiting the types of automobiles a consumer can purchase, the CAFE standards significantly distort the automobile market by forcing automakers to manufacture expensive automobiles that consumers do not want to purchase.
Finally, the CAFE standards have a negligible impact on the environment and global warming. Even Obama’s EPA conceded that the original stringent standards, if implemented to the letter, would only affect the climate by two one hundredths of a degree.
ATR strongly supports Secretary Pruitt’s decision and applauds his effort to protect American consumers and drivers from yet another Obama-era regulatory overreach.