March 31, 2020

Udall Statement on Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Car Standards

As the nation faces pandemic emergency, Trump administration takes time to reward polluters with rollback that worsens global warming, hits consumers’ pocketbooks and will increase respiratory illnesses

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) issued the following statement on the Trump Administration’s rollback of fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. The Obama-era standards represented the federal government’s strongest effort to combat climate change. The Trump rollback will send nearly one billion more tons of carbon dioxide into the air over vehicles’ lifetime – roughly equivalent to one-fifth of all U.S. CO2 annual emissions, along with increased air toxins that worsen respiratory illnesses. 

“While the public is rightly focused on keeping themselves and their families safe during the pandemic emergency, the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on smart climate change policy continue apace – threatening our planet and future generations. This administration continues to ignore the science – at the expense of the health of the American people, and to the benefit to the fossil fuel industry.

“This Trump rollback not only adds a billion more tons of CO2 into the air, it will result in thousands more premature deaths and millions more serious illnesses – including respiratory illness and asthma exacerbation. Likewise, this move will force consumers to pay more at the pump over the lifetime of their vehicles and reduce the incentive for American manufacturers to lead innovation into clean energy technologies. It is a cruel irony that this policy is being announced when the nation faces thousands of deaths from a respiratory virus and families are increasingly worried about their financial stability going forward.

“This extreme rollback is not even something car and truck manufacturers sought. But the fossil fuel industry sure likes it. It may be too much to expect the Trump administration to change their anti-public health and pro-special interest priorities, but they should be ashamed for pushing this out while Americans are rightly focused elsewhere.  At the very least, the Trump administration should pause regulatory actions like this until the pandemic emergency is behind us so that we can have a real public debate about the future of climate change, public health, and consumer protection policy.”

This rule change follows the Trump administration’s repeal last year of rules that had allowed California and other states to set tougher tailpipe emission standards than the federal government.  Almost half the states, including New Mexico, are challenging that repeal.  It is anticipated this rollback also will be challenged, creating further regulatory uncertainly for car and truck manufacturers. 

Since taking office, Trump has cut back nearly 100 environmental protection rules, and continues to do so during the coronavirus pandemic as the Administration works to weaken controls on toxic ash from coal plants, ease restrictions on mercury emissions, and eliminate the consideration of the impacts of climate change for most infrastructure projects.