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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to New EPA Fuel Standards

January 13, 2017

" EPA’s decision to implement them now is nothing more than an obvious bad-faith attempt to throw up as many hurdles to the incoming administration as possible." - Isaac Orr

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Friday finalized a new rule to require automakers to double their average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to more than 50 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. The rule was not scheduled to be finalized until 2018, well into the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who could be expected not to support such a large hike. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for 2017 models of cars and trucks is 35 mpg.

The following statements from energy and environment 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 Director of Communications Jim Lakely at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“Car and light-truck emissions in the United States account for only 1.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, a fraction that will become even smaller as emissions from developing countries rise. Even the Obama administration’s rosiest of projections say CAFE standards will decrease global temperatures by only 0.007 to 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100. Further, the lighter cars that are needed to meet the standards do not protect passengers during traffic accidents as well as heavier vehicles. The National Academy of Sciences estimates existing mandates have caused 1,300 to 2,600 deaths annually since they have been in effect since 1978, meaning they are responsible for between 50,000 and 100,000 fatalities over the past 38 years.

“The idea that consumers can be made better off by restricting their freedom to choose – the presumption that lies at the bottom of all proposals to impose or raise CAFE standards – is false. Consumers are better positioned than regulators to choose the size, fuel economy, and other features of the cars and trucks they buy. There is no public policy justification for taking away people’s freedom to choose their vehicles.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

“President Obama’s last-minute decision to finalize the CAFE standards is both irresponsible and harmful to American workers and consumers. Consumers don’t want smaller, lighter cars. They want large SUVs and trucks. This is evident in recent trends in automobile purchases; people who vote with their dollar overwhelmingly vote for bigger cars.

“These standards were supposed to be reviewed in April of 2018 to determine the feasibility of the rules. EPA’s decision to implement them now is nothing more than an obvious bad-faith attempt to throw up as many hurdles to the incoming administration as possible. It will also force Americans into smaller, more expensive cars that they do not want.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute

“EPA’s move to finalize the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency rules is par for the course. Rushing this ruling as the clock ticks down on the golden age of the EPA, today’s announcement shows once again that this EPA is agenda-driven with no regard for the costs of its decisions.

“The incoming Trump administration is focused on jobs and manufacturing with several companies, including Ford and Fiat Chrysler, announcing expansion plans. But today EPA slaps the automobile industry with unattainable standards that will only increase prices for consumers and cost jobs for working people.

“EPA’s ruling today will not stand, but it sets up years of litigation with environmental activist groups that have been funded by EPA for the past eight years. The folks at EPA would better spend their time cleaning out their desks and polishing their resumes.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Article Tags
Energy Environment
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department. @HeartlandGR
Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. @thefrackingguy
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