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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to EPA Review of CAFE Standards

April 4, 2018

“It is time to end CAFE standards entirely.” - H. Sterling Burnett


On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Model Years 2022-2025. According to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, “The Obama Administration's determination was wrong. Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.” The full EPA evaluation can be read online.

The following statements from environment and energy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

NOTE: The Heartland Institute has a professional TV studio in its office available for a remote connection to any news station or network on short notice.

“It is time to end CAFE standards entirely. Government never should have been in the business of dictating fuel efficiency. This should have always been left to consumers making free choices in the marketplace. If fuel economy is important to a buyer, he or she can choose a vehicle based primarily on its miles per gallon. If comfort, carrying capacity, or horsepower are more important than fuel economy, people should be able to buy a vehicle satisfying those desires absent a government making them pay more for the privilege. All CAFE has accomplished is to make people less safe, costing tens of thousands of lives by forcing people into smaller, lighter vehicles, which are inherently less safe during an accident than a larger, heavier vehicle equipped with comparable safety devices like seat belts, anti-lock brakes, and air bags.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Senior Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“EPA action today on California CAFE standards is a needed first step to end anti-fossil fuel energy policy. The size of the California market allows it to use control of CO2 emissions through CAFE to distort the nation’s energy market, resulting in higher costs of energy, goods and services for all Americans. We are a nation of states in a union, and California ignores the wellbeing of the whole while pursuing agenda-driven climate and energy policies that hurt us all.”

Fred Palmer
Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

The CAFE standards passed in response to the 1973 oil embargo are a clear example of unintended consequences. The standards did not reduce energy consumption, but they did increase highway fatalities. As the auto industry moved to lighter materials and smaller vehicles it made people less safe on the road. The CAFE standards should never have been implemented in the first place.

It is time for the review or repeal of the CAFE standards in light of the poor public safety record and increased domestic oil production. Consumers should choose the types of vehicles they want to drive without government interference. Eliminating CAFE will also increase automotive innovations and allow the free market to function again.

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

As a motorist, it has always bothered me that California - a state with no automobile industry except for a few boutique operations - is able to control states with long histories in the automobile business, states that employ hundreds-of-thousands of Americans.

The Obama Administration was not only wrong to insert politics into an environmental debate that will impact all 50 states and a few hundred million American motorists, it was also wrong to take a cue from a state with no economic stake in the issue. How would California like it if Wyoming controlled how its wine or film industries were regulated?

Mischa Popoff
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

Article Tags
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Frederick D. Palmer is a policy advisor for energy and climate at The Heartland Institute.
Bette Grande is a State Government Relations Manager at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
Mischa Popoff is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, Is it Organic? He earned a B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan where he specialized in the history of nitrogen for fertilizer and warfare.

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