Oregon Members of Congress Press Trump Administration to Listen to Oregonians on Proposed Fuel Standard Freeze

September 10, 2018
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, today pressed the Trump Administration to hold a public hearing in Oregon on its proposed freeze of fuel economy standards.
 
In addition to freezing nationwide standards at 37 miles per gallon (mpg), the proposal would also bar individual states from setting their own, more stringent standards. Oregon, along with 12 other states and the District of Columbia, has chosen to better protect air quality and public health by following stricter standards initially set by California.
 
“This proposed rule… would have a significant impact on the economy, the environment, and consumers in our state and around the country,” the Members of Congress wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our constituents deserve an opportunity for public engagement on a rule with such clear ramifications.”  
 
The EPA’s proposed rule, entitled “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks,” would freeze the light-duty fleet’s fuel economy standards at 37 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions at around 240 grams per mile from model year 2020 through model year 2026. Improvements in fuel economy have been critical to keeping the U.S. auto industry competitive, reducing pollution and associated negative health impacts, and saving consumers billions at the fuel pump. By 2030, the previous fuel standards would have saved the average car owner more than $6,000 over the life of the car, cut new vehicles carbon emissions by 50%, sustained 288,000 jobs, and reduced the U.S.’s oil consumption 2.4 million barrels per day.
 
Currently, the Administration has proposed only one west coast public hearing, in Fresno, California, despite the fact that the entire West Coast would be disproportionately impacted by the loss of the California standards.
 
“Elected officials from the west coast region, representing more than 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion dollars, have already spoken out against changes to the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards,” wrote the Members of Congress. “One public hearing on the West Coast is not adequate to hear these concerns. Therefore, we respectfully request that the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency provide our constituents an in-person opportunity to voice their concerns with this proposal and its impacts.”
 
The full text of the letter is available here and follows below.  
 
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Dear Secretary Chao and Acting Administrator Wheeler:
 
We write to request that the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency hold a public hearing in Oregon on the recently proposed rule to freeze the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions tailpipe standards. This proposed rule, entitled “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks,” would have a significant impact on the economy, the environment, and consumers in our state and around the country. Our constituents deserve an opportunity for public engagement on a rule with such clear ramifications.  
 
This proposed rule would freeze the light-duty fleet’s fuel economy standards at 37 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions at around 240 grams per mile from model year 2020 through model year 2026. Improvements in fuel economy have been critical to keeping the U.S. auto industry competitive, reducing pollution and associated negative health impacts, and saving consumers billions at the fuel pump. By 2030, the previous fuel standards would have saved the average car owner more than $6,000 over the life of the car, cut new vehicles carbon emissions by 50%, sustain 288,000 jobs, and reduce U.S. nation’s oil consumption 2.4 million barrels per day.
 
The Administration’s analysis of its own proposal shows how badly it would hit consumers’ wallets, the climate, and the American auto industry, including a loss of 60,000 jobs by 2030. Outside experts note this figure may actually underestimate the damage: the Union of Concerned Scientists found that freezing the fuel economy standards would cause consumers to spend an additional $50 billion on gasoline by 2035 and would reduce gross domestic product by $8 billion in 2025.
 
The proposal also announces the agencies’ intent to prevent California from setting its state-level vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, as explicitly allowed in the Clean Air Act. Oregon, along with 12 other states and the District of Columbia, has chosen to follow California’s more stringent requirements to protect air quality and public health, as explicitly permitted by the Clean Air Act. Oregonians should have an opportunity for a public hearing to voice concerns over a proposal that takes away the ability to set their own environmental and public health standards. The Administration should appreciate that this is especially important at a time when wildfires are leading to dangerous air quality levels for much of the state.
 
Elected officials from the west coast region, representing more than 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion dollars, have already spoken out against changes to the fuel economy and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards. One public hearing on the West Coast is not adequate to hear these concerns. Therefore, we respectfully request that the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency provide our constituents an in-person opportunity to voice their concerns with this proposal and its impacts.
 
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
 
Sincerely,