Rep. Sherrill and Rep. Foster Lead Call to Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency Urging Reconsideration of Fuel Efficiency Standards Rollback

April 22, 2020
Press Release

Parsippany, NJ -- Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Representative Bill Foster (IL-11) led 19 Members of Congress in urging U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reconsider rolling back the 2012 automobile fuel efficiency standards.

On March 31, 2020, the administration announced a new rule that would slash fuel efficiency standards from a goal of 55 mpg by 2025 to 40 mpg by 2026, eliminating one of the government’s most effective tools to combat climate change.

“New Jersey is one of the fastest warming places in the country, and we need the federal government to encourage our clean energy economy and measures to combat climate change, not take us backward,” said Representative Sherrill. “This decision goes against the administration’s own assessment that this rule is flawed, and undermines the scientific consensus on climate change. Confronting the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear: we must listen to our scientific community.”

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic, the administration’s decision to rollback existing greenhouse gas emission standards is a slap in the face to science and environmental protections,” said Representative Foster. “This rollback reflects a complete disregard for science and undermines the nation’s efforts to research and develop critical renewable energy technologies that will allow us to counter the disastrous effects of climate change.”

The letter, led by Representative Sherrill and Representative Foster, was also signed by: Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jared Huffman (CA-02), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Sean Casten (IL-06), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Jim Costa (CA-16), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03).


The full text of the letter is below PDF iconor available here.


The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC 20460


Dear Secretary Chao and Administrator Wheeler,

We are writing to object to the rollback of the existing car and light truck fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards that was finalized on Tuesday March 31, 2020. This would undermine efforts to limit tailpipe emissions and increase fuel economy, thus hampering one of the government’s best methods of combating climate change. Not only is this woefully inappropriate as the world is consumed by responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic, but this consequential regulatory decision would allow cars on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide in comparison to the 2012 regulations.

We believe that this rollback reflects a complete disregard for science and could harm the economy over time. The administration’s own draft economic analysis of the rule showed that it would hurt consumers by forcing them to buy more gasoline to fuel their less efficient cars. A recent analysis of the final rule concluded that even with this administration’s efforts to correct what a panel of government- appointed scientists, many of them selected by the current administration, found to be “significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis” of the rule, deep flaws still remain. This new standard would lead to nearly a billion more tons of carbon dioxide released and the consumption of about 80 billion more gallons of gasoline over the lifetime of the vehicles built during the terms of the rule.

This is yet another effort to undermine the United States’ efforts to fight climate change, which has so far included pulling out of the global Paris climate change accord, weakening the rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electric plants, and undermining the basic science that underpins environmental regulations. The 2012 policy was the first climate policy that targeted what is now the nation’s largest source of climate-warming emissions: transportation.

The rollback also puts the United States out of step with the rest of the global auto market, moving it from one of the strongest fuel economy standards in the world to the weakest. This new “American Standard” would be lower than those of the European Union, China, India, Japan and South Korea. That could present long-term challenges to the United States’ auto industry, as other automakers develop more sophisticated, high-efficiency, low-pollution vehicles while American ones focus on gas guzzlers.

During this difficult time in responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the United States should focus its efforts in helping Americans get the medical supplies, funding, and assistance necessary, not rolling back emissions standards that help to fight climate change and keep our air clean.

We strongly urge the administration to reconsider rolling back the 2012 emissions and withdraw it from publication in the federal register. Instead, we urge the administration to take all necessary steps to ensure public health protections are strengthened as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic.