WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to news reports, President-elect Biden is expected to order federal government agencies today to revisit greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks, following the controversial rollback of the standards under the outgoing administration. Biden will also reportedly direct the government to reconsider the similarly controversial 2019 decision to revoke California’s authority to set its own auto tailpipe emissions standards and require a rising number of zero-emission vehicles.
Consumer Reports praised today’s news. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization had strongly advocated for the original standards, citing the fuel cost savings for consumers and the public health benefits of lower-emission vehicles. CR harshly criticized the rollback and the move to revoke California’s authority. In November 2020 CR sent a letter to the presidential transition team calling for steps to address emissions and fuel economy like those the new administration is expected to take today.
David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy, Consumer Reports, said, “Rolling back the rollback is good news for consumers, and it could not have come sooner. This should just be the beginning. The auto industry has the technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions of new cars and light-trucks 60 percent by 2030, while significantly improving fuel economy. Stronger standards mean people can buy new cars and trucks that will save them more money while clearing the air. Your mileage is better, and you’re making fewer trips to the gas pump, or eliminating the trips all together with a money-saving electric car. These standards should have never been rolled back in the first place. Consumers want vehicles that cost less to operate, and the original standards delivered big savings, plus less pollution. We’re excited to hear the news that these controversial decisions are going to be reconsidered. We want to work with the incoming administration, labor leaders, environmental justice groups, automakers and Americans on all sides of the political aisle to get these standards back on track.”
The 2020 rollback weakened emissions and gas mileage requirements from annual improvements of about 5% down to only 1.5%. At the time CR said that move would add thousands of dollars in fuel costs for car owners, more than wiping out the slightly lower vehicle costs from removing fuel-saving technology. The CR analysis of the rollback found that the rollback would cost all American consumers a total of $300 billion in net losses, increase fuel costs per average new vehicle by $3,200, and increase average net costs per new vehicle by $2,100.
CR has urged automakers to drop their support for rolling back the standards, and a 2020 CR survey found 86% of Americans agreed that automakers should continue to improve fuel economy. CR recently found that lifetime ownership costs for the most popular electric vehicles (EVs) on the market under $50,000 are typically $6,000 to $10,000 less than the best gas-powered vehicles in their class.
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