News Releases

As public comment period on proposed rule closes, Senators warn in new letter that it would harm consumers, increase oil consumption, and worsen climate change

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined their Senate Democratic colleagues in expressing opposition to the Trump Administration’s recent proposal to roll back fuel economy standards, which would harm consumers, and lead to increased oil consumption and more harmful emissions which contribute to global warming. In a letter sent today to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), the senators urged the agencies to reject the preferred alternative of freezing the fuel economy emissions standards at 2020 levels, and instead adopt strong standards that all stakeholders can support.

Freezing the standards at 2020 levels, as the Trump Administration is proposing in the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Proposed Rule for Model Years 2021-2026, 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 proposed roll-back 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 senators also highlighted that the proposal is an attack on the Clean Air Act waiver that several states and the District of Columbia, including Washington state, use to implement strong state-level fuel economy standards – a direct assault on clean air, states’ rights, and certainty for the auto industry. Additionally, the senators pointed to the success of the current standards in saving consumers money, protecting the environment, creating jobs, and boosting the American automotive industry.

“The Trump administration’s proposal to freeze the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards is wrong on its merits,” wrote the senators in their letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “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.”

Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have fought to strengthen vehicle fuel economy standards and have both opposed efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine states’ ability to improve upon the federal standards. In August, Senators Murray and Cantwell introduced a resolution to protect current national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards in response to the Trump Administration’s unilateral decision to roll back these standards, despite a broad coalition of support for the standards from business, labor, consumer, and environmental groups. Additionally, last month, Senators Murray and Cantwell urged EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to extend the public comment period for the proposed rule change.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.