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CR, consumers to testify at EPA hearing in favor of strong clean car standards

  • Consumer Reports analysis of EPA proposal says agency’s “Alternative 2” would be a better pathway back to Obama-era standards, saving consumers up to average of $2100 per vehicle
  • CR says EPA’s preferred alternative would result in fewer consumer and environmental benefits compared to its Alternative 2

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Consumer Reports analysts will testify at an August 25-26 hearing held by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the agency’s proposal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while boosting the availability of electric vehicles for consumers. More than 30 consumers organized by CR are also registered to testify.

The nonprofit, independent consumer research organization is testifying in support of EPA’s proposal to reverse the 2020 rollback of GHG standards, and CR is urging EPA to reinstate stronger ones. CR notes that EPA’s current proposal has room for improvement since it only recovers 75% of the lost benefits from Obama-era standards. According to the agency’s own analysis, EPA’s Alternative 2 would result in greater net benefits for consumers and the environment when compared with EPA’s preferred alternative.

Dr. Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy for CR, says, “EPA’s preferred alternative does not go far enough to fight the climate challenge ahead of us, and it leaves a range of consumer and climate benefits on the table. We are calling on the EPA to shift to its Alternative 2 – especially as the administration looks for more opportunities to uplift and support environmental justice efforts and communities of color. Research has shown that low-income and BIPOC communities are being disproportionately impacted by climate change, so setting the strongest possible GHG emissions standard is going to be critical to improving the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable populations.” 

EPA’s Alternative 2 matches the stringency of the original Obama-Biden standards, which CR found saves consumers an average of $2100 per vehicle over the lifetime of the car. It is also worth noting that automakers already agreed to these same standards almost a decade ago. 

Trends have shown that declining compliance costs and a boost in electrification will make meeting this level of stringency even more achievable. Warren continues, “There is no strong justification for setting a standard that’s weaker than EPA’s Alternative 2 when we know automakers can easily meet a stronger standard.”

CR also supports EPA action to increase the stringency of the 2026 standard included in the agency’s current proposal. Automakers and the White House have set an ambitious yet achievable goal of 50 percent electrification for U.S. fleets by 2030. In order to meet the goal, EPA must increase stringency on GHG emissions for 2026 by 10 grams per mile. An increase in stringency would also save consumers an additional $300 per vehicle on top of the existing savings from the rule. CR is recommending that regulators reign in the credits and loopholes throughout the proposal, as they undermine the real-world benefits of the rule. 

CR senior transportation policy analyst Chris Harto, says, “We appreciate EPA’s efforts to reverse the rollbacks, but the agency must do away with many of the loopholes included in its proposal. Electric vehicle multipliers decrease the effectiveness of the rule, and EPA’s own analysis shows they do not increase electrification. These complex credit schemes are an unnecessary, free gift to automakers and should be eliminated if the country is going to reduce emissions from new vehicles by 60 percent by 2030.

CR has mobilized over 30 consumers who support EPA implementing the strongest standards possible to fight the climate crisis. These consumers are urging regulators to hold automakers accountable for improving the efficiency of their fleets over time and for putting people and the environment first.

A recent Consumer Reports nationally representative survey found that nearly three out of every four respondents said the federal government should continue to increase fuel economy standards, and that automakers have a responsibility to consumers to improve gas mileage.

As part of EPA’s rule making process, the public has the opportunity to weigh in on the current proposal through the agency’s formal comment process until September 27, 2021. 

Contact: Carsen Mata, carsen.mata@consumer.org