One of the best ways to promote clean air is to promote clean cars. In 2012, President Obama directed federal agencies to set strict standards for new cars and SUVs requiring vehicles to get higher mileage over time, use less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gases. The rules set a goal of getting the average car to 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Extensive technical analysis, vehicles available for sale today and near-weekly announcements by the auto industry show reaching that target is both achievable and beneficial.
Unfortunately, the current Administration is working to finalize a rule that would completely stop any improvement in mileage standards after 2020. This would mean new cars made after 2020 would use more fuel, cost consumers more to operate, emit more greenhouse gases and contribute more to local air pollution – all leading to greater climate instability and increasing health threats.
In addition, the U.S. EPA is proposing to take away California’s legal authority to set a higher bar for limiting vehicle emissions. For decades, California has had the ability to set tighter tailpipe standards for vehicles sold in the state and their leadership has also helped push tighter car tailpipe standards for the nation as a whole. Hybrid electric and 100% battery-powered cars are on the roads today because California demanded that auto manufacturers make and sell vehicles that provide better air quality as well as cost savings. A dozen other states have already adopted California’s tougher standards. Taking away California’s authority would mean that states like Illinois would also be unable to demand better to improve the lives and health of residents.