In this week’s edition of Science, eleven researchers from prominent universities around the US criticized the federal government’s justification for rolling back vehicle fuel economy standards. They wrote that the economic assumptions made in the government’s 2018 report resulted in a “flawed” analysis that will likely result in more traffic fatalities, more congestion, and more greenhouse gases emitted.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Trump has moved to rescind a number of environmentally-minded regulations instituted under the Obama Administration. One of the first in its crosshairs was the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards for light trucks and passenger vehicles, which paralleled the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These two regulations (the GHG and CAFE rules) both aimed to force automakers to adhere to gradually-tightening fuel efficiency standards, which were detailed out to 2025.
The EPA under Administrator Scott Pruitt spent most of 2017 laying the groundwork to rescind the GHG rules, saying the rules were onerous for automakers. But it’s hard to rescind and replace existing law—agencies need to justify their decisions with robust studies showing that a rules change will improve the livelihood of Americans, whether in health or in jobs.