EPA and NHTSA Finalize Rollback of Federal Clean Car Standards

On March 31, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency within the Department of Transportation, finalized a rule rolling back motor vehicle standards. The new Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule sets revised standards for corporate average fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions for passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks for model years 2021-2026. Under the SAFE Rule, the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions standards will increase in stringency by 1.5% pear year from model year 2020 over model years 2021-2026.

The SAFE Rule replaces requirements issued in 2012 that would have achieved a 5% improvement per year in carbon dioxide emissions standards and fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles. These standards were expected to result in average industry fleet-wide mileage of up to 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. By contrast, EPA and NHTSA project that the SAFE Rule will lead to an average industry fleet-wide mileage of 40.5 miles per gallon in model year 2030. The agencies also estimate that the SAFE Rule will result in an additional 1.9 to 2.0 billion barrels of fuel consumed and 867-923 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted as compared to the 2012 standards.