Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, top Democrat of the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter on Aug. 23 to EPW Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, calling for an immediate hearing on the Donald Trump administration’s effort to freeze the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards.
The letter calls for Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and representatives from the Department of Transportation, the California Air Resources Board, auto companies and organizations working on consumer, environmental and transportation safety issues to come before the committee and testify on the proposal. In their letter, the senators highlight the fact that, according to the Trump administration’s own analysis, freezing the Obama-era standards would result in increased consumption of 500,000 barrels of oil daily by the early 2030s, cause the loss of 60,000 jobs by 2030 and preempt states such as California and Massachusetts from enacting stronger emissions standards to protect public health and the environment.
The letter is signed by Carper, Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts; Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Cory Booker, D-New York; Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.
“The current fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards will cut global warming pollution, save consumers money on gasoline, and cut our national oil consumption,” the senators wrote in their letter to Barrasso. “Any changes to this critical program should not be taken lightly. This proposal needs to be thoroughly analyzed, critiqued and discussed by the Committee on Environment and Public Works.”
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced its proposed rule to roll back the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, freezing the fuel economy targets at 2020 levels and essentially committing to no further improvements in fuel economy for cars and light trucks produced for model years 2021 through 2026. The proposed rule also attacks the Clean Air Act waiver that California has long used to maintain its strong state-level vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, and which Massachusetts and other states have adopted. This move would challenge the existing “One National Program” that automakers, California, and the administration finalized in 2012.
The U.S. will consume 500,000 more barrels of oil per day if standards are frozen at 2020 levels. In contrast, the current 54.5 mpg standard will cut oil use by nearly 2.5 million barrels per day by 2030, nearly as much oil as the U.S. currently imports from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations combined. Freezing the standards would also would cost American drivers an additional $20 billion in 2025 alone on higher gas spending.
A copy of the letter is available at bit.ly/2Pxp28w.