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Matsui Calls On EPA And NHTSA To Halt Clean Cars Rollback During COVID-19 Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and author of the Clean and Efficient Cars Act, sent a letter to Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and James Owens, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), urging them to halt the finalization of the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The urgency of the climate crisis requires the United States and nations around the world to advance climate policies as quickly as possible.  Instead, the SAFE Vehicles Rule significantly relaxes fuel efficiency standards, preventing many of the gains in greenhouse gas reductions that would have been achieved under the Obama-era standards. The new rule increases emissions, contributing to the burden placed on our health care system by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, consumers stand to lose under the so-called SAFE Vehicles Rule via increased costs at the pump, furthering the economic hardships faced by Americans across the country.

During this time of crisis, the Congresswoman Matsui calls on the Trump Administration to pause its rollback of emission standards and make sure all resources are directed towards American workers and families.

Full text of the letter is below:

Andrew Wheeler

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

 

The Honorable James C. Owens

Acting Administrator

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

1200 New Jersey Ave, SE

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Administrator Wheeler and Acting Administrator Owens:

 I write to urge you to postpone finalization of Part Two of the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, which is expected to be released this Tuesday, March 31st. Our country is facing an unprecedented health crisis that is crippling our workforce, U.S. businesses, and even the federal government. As such, this is not the time to be rushing through final regulations that are going to have far-reaching consequences across various sectors of our economy and on American public health.

The current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, as promulgated under President Obama, serve as our strongest national policy to address carbon emissions in the United States. It has been obvious from the outset that the reversal of these regulations, and the drafting of their replacement, has not been grounded in science, nor has it included the expertise of federal employees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that they are in the best interest of the American people.

Moreover, according to the New York Times, a cost-benefit analysis of the rule showed that consumers would lose more money than they would gain. Americans are suffering financially across the country, confronted with massive layoffs, reduced hours of work, and new costs associated with illness and hospitalizations. As the rule currently stands, it would only add to the already heavy burden our constituents are facing as we continue to see cases of COVID-19 explode in our communities.

While I have significant concerns, and questions, about how this final rule was crafted and justifications for certain changes, I write today only to urge you to halt the finalization of the rule while we continue to respond to one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever faced. The effort to combat this pandemic requires assistance and coordination across all levels of government – state, local, and federal. We should not be further overwhelming these parties with new regulations that will require time and attention to adjust and respond to. Furthermore, the House demonstrated last week that our economy is facing some of the greatest challenges in our nation’s history by passing a $2 trillion relief bill. American consumers cannot afford the additional cost that this final rule places upon them.

It is absolutely imperative that you postpone finalization of this harmful regulatory rollback and I urge you to put the best interest of the American people first by halting your plans to release the rule on Tuesday. Thank you for your consideration.

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