Bennet to Trump Administration: Don’t Weaken Clean Car Standards

Administration’s proposed changes would affect Colorado’s authority to adopt low fuel economy emission standards

DENVER, CO — Today, as the comment period closes on a proposed rule to roll back fuel economy emission standards, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet opposed the Trump administration’s proposal and called for an end to its challenge of states’ authority to set their own standards. Bennet and his colleagues sent two letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), outlining how the proposed changes would harm states like Colorado, increase prices for households, and put the United States at a global disadvantage. Earlier this year, Colorado announced it would join 13 other states in adopting California’s low fuel economy emission standards.

“The Trump Administration is making a mistake in rolling back the clean car standards,” Bennet said. “The Obama Administration took an all-in approach to build a robust vehicle manufacturing industry that puts American-made cars and trucks at a competitive advantage—creating more innovative, safe, and clean vehicles. The Trump Administration will look back in history and find itself responsible for giving our global competitors the upper hand. No matter political affiliation, everyone can agree rolling back fuel economy standards is bad policy. I’m glad Colorado continues to lead.”  

In the first letter, Bennet and 22 senators—all from states that have adopted low fuel economy emission standards—called on the agencies to end their challenge to the states’ authority to set their own standards. California has the authority to maintain its own fuel economy emission standards under the Clean Air Act. The Act also allows other states to follow California’s standards, which Colorado announced it is in the process of doing earlier this year. An agreement between the federal government and California in 2012 created a single national program, which is expected to raise new car mileage to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. The proposed changes would prevent California and the other states from maintaining the current program on their own.

“The changes you have proposed to this carefully negotiated program are not supported by federal law and will only result in higher costs for the American consumer and years of litigation and investment uncertainty for the auto industry—all while endangering public health and welfare,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to abandon the confrontational and counterproductive approach you have proposed, and instead work to preserve the coordinated national program by seeking consensus with the states.”

In the second letter, Bennet and 31 senators urged the agencies to reject the proposal to freeze fuel economy emission standards at 2020 levels, and instead adopt strong standards that all stakeholders could support. As the senators wrote, freezing the standards would increase domestic oil consumption by 500,000 barrels of oil per day, as well as increase consumer spending by $20 billion a year in 2025 and almost $50 billion in 2035. The proposal also would lead the United States to emit an additional 2.2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution by 2040, the equivalent of 55 coal-fired power plants running for ten straight years.

“The Trump administration’s proposal to freeze the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards is wrong on its merits,” the senators wrote. “If strong standards that maximize fuel savings are maintained, consumers will save money on gas, jobs in auto manufacturing and fuel-efficient technology will continue to increase, the American auto industry will be able to compete internationally, and innovation will continue to thrive.”

In April, Bennet introduced legislation to block the Trump administration from rolling back the historic 54.5 fuel economy emission standards. In remarks at a press conference and in a letter to state governors, Bennet expressed support for states that have adopted strong fuel economy standards and pledged to oppose administration efforts to undermine those standards. Bennet also wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting explanations for revising the fuel economy emission standards.