Trump’s Attack on Fuel Efficient Cars Would Hurt Our Economy
BY TIM CRONIN, AUGUST 15th 2018
Last week President Trump’s EPA announced its unprecedented plan to rollback the nation’s auto emissions standards, jeopardizing national and local economies, while hindering our ability to fight climate change.
This irresponsible action by the administration will harm Massachusetts’ economic stability, job growth, air quality, and emissions reduction goals. Business leaders have an opportunity to respond to the Trump administration’s reckless action and advocate for policies focused on reducing emissions from the transportation sector.
Background: Clean Car Standards
National clean car standards originated in the 1960’s with wide bipartisan support (Ronald Reagan established California’s stricter standards while governor of California). The latest update came under the Obama administration in 2012, in a deal with American automakers. As recently as January 2017, EPA staff researchers released a report that concluded that these standards work, are achievable, and should not be rolled back. That report also cited how automakers were previously on track to meet the clean car standards at lower cost than originally anticipated.
Yet, without any change in the facts, the Trump administration is rolling back standards, ignoring the thousands of pages of research and analysis that support keeping them. The justification for the rollback is baseless, with the EPA administrator clinging to the bizarre claim that fuel efficient cars cause more auto deaths.
Clean Car Benefits to Massachusetts
Benefiting Consumers— The clean car standards have already improved the fuel economy of all types of passenger vehicles, cutting gas use and saving money for households in Massachusetts.
- Since 2011, the vehicle standards have reduced gas consumption by more than 186 million gallons.
- As a result, drivers saved $602 million—the equivalent of $212 per household—in fuel costs between 2012-2016.
- By 2030, the average resident will be $2,650 richer if clean car standards are kept.
Strengthening the Economy—By saving money at the pump, consumers have more to spend in other sectors of the economy—from food services to household needs—which can lead to the creation of more local jobs. This means a stronger economy in Massachusetts that is more resilient to fluctuations in the global price of gas.
- By 2030, the current standard is estimated to reduce overall gas consumption in Massachusetts by 814 million gallons per year, saving consumers $2.8 billion in reduced gas expenses.
- As a result, the standards create more than 15,000 jobs in the state and increase its gross state product (GSP) by more than $2 billion by 2030.
Reducing Transportation Emissions—The standards have also acted as a powerful policy instrument for achieving Massachusetts’ emissions reduction goals and ensuring that the state continues to make progress toward a clean and sustainable future.
- The standards have already reduced annual transportation-related emissions in Massachusetts by 850,000 metric tons.
- By 2030, the standards would have lowered the state’s global warming emissions by 8.7 million metric tons per year — the equivalent of shutting down two coal-fired power plants, or almost a tenth of the state’s total emissions in the base year of 1990.
- The Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan predicts that even by 2020 the standards will cut our overall emissions by 3.9% — the third most important policy among all those in the Plan, and the most important in transportation.
CABA is organizing business leaders and local chambers of commerce in opposing this reckless action from the Trump administration. Law requires the EPA to seek public comment for 60 days before deciding on any final regulations, including this rollback. CABA is helping business leaders craft and submit their own testimony, and will be hosting a series of short webinars to do so.
TIM CRONIN Policy Associate