Colorado News Connection

September 11, 2017Available files: mp3 wav jpg

Clean-Air Groups Urge EPA to Keep Fuel-Efficiency Standards

Eric Galatas

DENVER - Clean air advocates are speaking out in the wake of a move by the Trump administration to roll back standards on clean cars and fuel efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing last week in Washington and is taking comments until Oct. 5.

While automakers complain that modifications required are expensive and drive up the sticker price, Dave Cooke, a senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says those costs are overestimated and points out that the U.S. auto industry has surged in recent years.

"We had back-to-back years of record sales," he points out. "We're not going to quite hit that, but we're on pace to top 17 million vehicles again for the third year in a row. That's never happened before, so obviously industry is doing pretty well right now."

The current standards took effect five years ago and just underwent a review last year. By 2025, the standards aim to reduce tailpipe pollution by 6 billion metric tons and almost double fuel efficiency, saving consumers about $1,500 each.

In 2009, the EPA confirmed that greenhouse gases endanger people's health and need to be regulated.

Carol Lee Rawn, director of the Transportation Program for the sustainability advocacy group Ceres, attended the hearing in Washington. She says the standards actually make American cars more competitive.

"It's necessary to have strong standards in place in order to protect the leadership position of the United States," she states. "It's not going to be able to compete in this new world if it's falling behind on fuel efficiency and new technologies."

President Donald Trump has said the changes would support jobs in the auto industry.

Advocates point out that 288,000 Americans are currently employed building technologies that reduce pollution from cars and trucks - and estimate that as many as 50,000 could lose those jobs by 2030 if standards are rolled back.

More than 300,000 people already have weighed in on the proposed rollbacks, in support of the standards.