Last week, the federal government formally proposed to roll back the country’s clean car rules and limit states’ rights to address climate change and clean air—a move that would halt in its tracks the country’s first fuel economy improvements since the 1980s, forgo critical greenhouse gas reductions, and cost Americans nearly $17 billion in savings at the pump in 2025.
The Foundation’s Climate and Clean Energy program supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and accelerating electric vehicle adoption in our effort to transform the energy sectors and ensure that the benefits are shared widely.
The transportation sector emits more greenhouse gases than any other sector in the United States. Clean car rules that set ambitious standards—that are economically and technologically achievable—are foundational to reducing transportation emissions and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.
The current rules were jointly adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation, in coordination with the California Air Resources Board and with the backing of nine major automakers. The rules set the nation’s standards for new cars on a path to average 36 miles per gallon by 2025 (today’s new cars average 25 mpg).
The federal government is now proposing to indefinitely flatline fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards after 2020. In an unprecedented move, it is also threatening state rights by proposing to revoke California’s long-standing authority to set more ambitious car standards—standards that other states then, by law, can adopt. Revoking California’s authority jeopardizes clean car advancement for the one-third of new cars in the U.S. covered by the 13 states and D.C. that implement California’s standards.
At the Foundation, we are energized by the momentum already building to support the country’s clean car standards. A bipartisan coalition of 20 states have announced their intention to challenge in court any federal rollback decision. And Colorado has begun the process to adopt California’s car standards.
We are proud of the work our grantee partners are doing to show that Americans are better off with strong clean car rules:
- Researchers at organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy,International Council on Clean Transportation, and Union of Concerned Scientists are analyzing the economic, technology, safety, and emissions impacts of rolling back the clean car standards.
- Organizations like Consumers Union are speaking up for the eight out of ten Americans who want fuel economy improvements from automakers. Green for All and GreenLatinos are speaking out about the benefits of clean car standards for communities of color that are often disproportionately impacted by vehicle pollution and high costs at the gas pump.
- BlueGreen Alliance Foundation is standing up for the U.S. manufacturing gains from current clean car rules and 60,000 jobs that will wither with a rollback.
- The legal teams at Advanced Energy Economy Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council are probing the legal basis of the government’s proposed actions.
- Academic institutions like Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program and New York University Institute for Policy Integrity are examining the legal basis for the proposal to eliminate state legal rights to set stronger car standards.
The Foundation stands with its grantees and philanthropic colleagues who seek to sustain the health, climate, economic, and financial benefits Americans reap from clean car standards.