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Consumer Reports calls on Congress to stop federal rollbacks of fuel economy standards

WASHINGTON, DC – David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy for Consumer Reports, testified on Thursday, June 20, at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the rollback of federal fuel economy and clean car standards. The hearing comes just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are poised to finalize a freeze on the gradually improving fuel economy standards that are currently saving consumers money and spurring automotive innovations.

Consumer Reports, the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, finds that NHTSA and EPA’s preferred rollback would cost buyers of new vehicles made after 2025 an additional $3,300 over the life of the vehicle, on average.

Mr. Friedman is a former Deputy and Acting Administrator of NHTSA, where he led the agency’s mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce the economic costs of road traffic crashes. Mr. Friedman testified that the current leadership of NHTSA is misleading the public about the effects of freezing fuel economy standards by calling its proposal the “SAFE” rule.

Friedman says, “This Orwellian-sounding rule does nothing to improve safety. There are many things that NHTSA could and should be doing to help safety and is not doing. NHTSA can and should move forward on sensible safety rules — many of them congressionally mandated — that would help protect the public.”

Among the initiatives highlighted by Mr. Friedman are rear seat belt reminders, stronger testing of advanced driver assistance safety features such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), and on-board systems to detect drunk drivers – which all have the potential to save thousands of lives annually.

In a nationally representative survey, Consumer Reports found that fuel economy is the number one attribute vehicle owners would like to see improved in their next car, beating out purchase price, vehicle size, horsepower, and style, among other features. The same survey also found strong majority support for robust fuel economy standards. Highlights from the survey include:

· 85% of Americans agreed automakers should continue to improve fuel economy for all vehicle types.

· 74% of Americans agreed that increasing average on-road fuel economy from 25 miles per gallon today to 40 miles per gallon by 2025 is a worthwhile goal.

· 78% of Americans agreed that making larger vehicles, such as SUVs or trucks, more fuel-efficient is important.

Mr. Friedman’s written testimony to the committee is online here and is attached as a PDF to this page.

The hearing, “Driving in Reverse: The Administration’s Rollback of Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards,” which took place on Thursday, June 20, can be viewed on the Energy Subcommittee website.