Plug in America, the nation's leading advocacy group for the transition to electric-powered personal transportation, released a statement in response to the Trump administration's latest attack on new vehicle mileage standards.

The new rules will greatly reduce one of America's best tools to reduce the negative public health impacts caused by tailpipe emissions. With part two of the EPA and NHTSA rule now officially taking effect, corporate average fuel economy standards for 2021 through 2026 will only need to improve 1.5% year over year, instead of the 5% improvement that was currently in place. 

The Trump administration, and the automakers that supported these relaxed standards, have argued that the new measures will reduce the cost of new vehicles and also, somehow make them safer. However, studies show that over time the lower fuel standards will actually cost Americans $300 billion.

According to a Consumer reports study, weakening requirements to 1.5% will do the following:

  • Increase fuel costs per average new vehicle by $3,200
  • Increase net costs per average new vehicle by $2,100
  • Cost nearly every state (45 of 50) at least $1 billion in net consumers losses
  • Cost all American consumers a total of $300 billion in net losses

Setting lower emission standards also means more tailpipe emissions and a greater impact on global warming. However, that's probably not something that the current administration has much concern about since the President has made his position on the global warming "hoax" quite clear:

Donald Trump's tweet on global warming

However, if you're one of the people concerned about clean air CAFE standards, all is not lost. Some automakers understand the urgent need for lower emissions and have voluntarily pledged to adhere to the strict fuel economy standards set by California. Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda have all struck a deal with California to achieve a fleet average of 50 mpg for light-duty vehicles by the 2026 model year.

That's even more aggressive than the 5% annual improvement that was in place before these new rules took effect. Which begs to ask if they can do it, why can't GM, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler? Those three OEMs were the most vocal in support of the Trump administration's fight to gut the established standards.

We applaud the four established OEMs that took this step, basically rebuking the Trump administration, which has been known to attack companies that publicly break from its direction. These companies knew there would likely be ramifications, and still sided with California and its clean air initiative.

We've posted the full statement from Plug in America below. Take some time to read it and follow the embedded links to studies that support PIA's stance on this.

This is a highly controversial topic, and we expect there will be InsideEVs readers that have strong feelings on both sides of this debate. As always, we want to know your thoughts on this topic, so please leave them in the comments section below. 


WASHINGTON – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released Part Two of “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.” This rule rolls back the fuel efficiency standards to a 1.5% year-over-year improvement in mileage vs a 5% improvement under the Obama Administration. With this rollback, the nation loses critical guidance and direction on emissions reduction goals from the light-duty vehicle sector, which ultimately helps to spur overall interest and investment in electric vehicles (EVs) nationwide. Needless to say, Plug In America opposes this new rule under the Trump Administration.

“At a time when we are experiencing a global health crisis, we should not be weakening fuel efficiency standards and adding more pollution to the air we breathe,” said Plug In America Executive Director Joel Levin. “To protect the health of all Americans, we must transition to clean transportation, including plug-in electric vehicles. In addition, in the midst of the current economic slowdown, evidence shows that electric vehicles create good domestic jobs in manufacturing and energy. Rolling back the clean car standards is bad for the environment, bad for public health, and bad for the economy.”

With Part One of the rule, released in September 2019, the EPA and NHTSA revoked state authority to set its own tailpipe pollution standards and adopt zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. As we’ve stated before, there’s no doubt the single biggest policy driver for the market is the ZEV standard (mandate), which requires that an increasing percentage of new cars sold in the state be zero-emission. This forces the automakers to actually make EVs or to buy credits from other automakers who are making these clean cars.  

report issued by the Rhodium group on the rollback of the standards found that: “Relative to Obama-era rules, we find that rolling back national fuel economy standards and revoking California’s waiver could reduce the share of ZEVs sold in 2035 by up to 8 percentage points nationwide, which could mean up to 14 million fewer ZEVs on the road by that year.”

In addition, rolling back clean car standards means more tailpipe pollution. Living with air pollution has been linked to higher rates of health issues, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Multiple studies have found that high levels of air pollution have also been linked to larger numbers of people hospitalized with pneumonia. In our unprecedented public health crisis right now, it makes zero sense to take any actions that would increase tailpipe pollution and further impact public health in a negative way. Instead, the Administration should take actions that promote the adoption of battery EVs, since they have no tailpipe and therefore no tailpipe pollution.  

A Consumer Reports study found that rolling back clean car standards would cost nearly every state (45 of 50) at least $1 billion in net consumer losses and cost all Americans a total of $300 billion in net losses. This is money that could be going back into local communities, acting as an economic stimulus at all levels, instead of going into a gas pump. EVs save consumers money due to their lower fuel costs (electricity) and the savings on maintenance. 

Since the re-opening of this rule under the Trump Administration, the states of Minnesota and New Mexico have announced their intent to join the California Advanced Clean Cars program—including adopting the ZEV mandate. In addition, Colorado fully adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program. And just two weeks, ago, Washington state also fully adopted the Advanced Clean Cars program.  

“The Trump Administration is tossing away states’ rights with this unprecedented proposal, telling Americans to drive dirtier vehicles that are more expensive to fuel,” said Joel Levin, Executive Director of Plug In America. “California has historically had some of the worst air pollution in the country. The authority granted to California to set strong standards for itself and the twelve other states plus D.C. that follow its rules has led to significantly reduced air pollution. Revoking this authority doesn’t help anyone, it just hurts the American people. We will see them in court.”

Ultimately, this issue will be decided in the courts, as numerous groups have challenged the Trump Administration over their actions with the standards—including Plug In America. We are part of the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation and a part of the lawsuit that is suing the federal government for rolling back the Clean Car Standards and revoking the CA waiver. As always, we will continue working with states to implement supportive state-level policies and programs that drive adoption of EVs.

About Plug In America
Plug In America is the nation’s leading independent consumer voice for accelerating the embrace of plug-in electric vehicles in the United States. Formed as a non-profit in 2008, Plug In America provides practical, objective information collected from our coalition of plug-in vehicle drivers, through public outreach and education, policy work and a range of technical advisory services. Our expertise represents the world’s deepest pool of experience of driving and living with plug-in vehicles. We drive electric. You can too.

Got a tip for us? Email: