Obama Decries Trump Administration Roll Back of His 2026 Vehicle Fuel Economy Increase For Safety

In a press release today, the NHTSA and the EPA released a statement rolling back emissions standards to 1.5% each year through model year 2026, as compared with the standards issued in 2012, which would have required about 5% annual increases.

Former President Barack Obama was not happy with the decision and took to Twitter, comparing it to the Coronavirus pandemic. He encouraged “young people” to get out and vote to “demand better of our government”.

We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said of the move, “This rule reflects the Department’s #1 priority—safety—by making newer, safer, cleaner vehicles more accessible for Americans who are, on average, driving 12-year-old cars. By making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created. Today, President Trump is keeping his promise to autoworkers made three years ago that he would reinvigorate American auto manufacturing by updating costly, increasingly unachievable fuel economy and vehicle CO2 emissions standards, and that is what the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule accomplishes.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with his perspective, “We are delivering on President Trump’s promise to correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards. Our final rule puts in place a sensible one national program that strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry.  This rule supports our economy, and the safety of American families.”

The SAFE Vehicles Rule reflects the realities of today’s markets, including substantially lower oil prices than in the original 2012 projection, significant increases in U.S. oil production, and growing consumer demand for larger vehicles.  

The SAFE Vehicles Rule increases U.S. competitiveness by reducing regulatory costs by as much as $100 billion through model year 2029. According to NHTSA/EPA projections, it will also boost new vehicle sales through model year 2029 by up to 2.7 million vehicles. At a time of sudden economic uncertainty, the SAFE Vehicles Rule provides help for millions of American workers and thousands of businesses in the auto sector and related industries by cutting costs and increasing sales of safe new vehicles.

By reducing the average price of a new vehicle by about $1,000, this right-sized rule will make it easier for Americans to afford to buy newer, cleaner, and safer vehicles.

The SAFE Vehicles Rule will also help more Americans afford newer vehicles, which NHTSA’s research shows are safer than ever. About 3,300 fewer crash fatalities, 397,000 fewer injuries, and more than 1.8 million fewer vehicles damaged in crashes are projected over the lifetimes of vehicles built according to these new standards.

At the same time, the SAFE Vehicles Rule continues to protect the environment by increasing stringency of CAFE and CO2 emissions standards over the next five years, ensuring that Americans will have a wide range of affordable, safe, and fuel-efficient vehicles to choose from.

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