Consumers Union Calls for EPA Economy Targets to Stay High

A Consumers Union spokesman is going to the EPA midterm review hearings today, saying that Americans want better fuel economy and that the EPA’s cost of improved economy might be 40 percent too high.

The Consumers Union, the policy and lobbying side of Consumer Reports, sent spokesperson Jack Barnett to speak at today’s EPA hearing on reopening fuel economy targets from 2021 to 2025. Last March, President Trump ordered a review of fuel economy standards, and as part of that the EPA is having just a single public hearing for consumers, automakers, and state regulators to have a say.

The Consumers Union has long said that in its research, Americans want better fuel economy. Nine in 10 Americans want automakers to improve fuel efficiency. It said that more than seven in 10 want the government to set higher standards.

The big argument against increasing standards is cost. When they set the targets, the Obama administrations said that the new rules would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, but cost automakers $200 billion over 13 years. In the latest EPA report, the cost to meet the higher 2021 standards was estimated at $1,070 per vehicle, using 2010 dollars.

SEE ALSO: Consumers Union To Trump Administration: Tough Fuel Economy Rules Save Consumers Money

The Consumers Union disagrees with that number.

“New research from ICCT, the group that helped uncover the Volkswagen diesel scandal, found that EPA’s cost estimates may have been overstated by as much as 40 percent,” Barnett said in a pre-released copy of his testimony.

“Further, automakers continue to innovate. Over the last several months, Mazda, Infiniti and others have announced new engine breakthroughs that could further boost efficiency and lower costs for consumers,” he added.

Those changes help lower costs and further improve fuel economy. Those new efficient vehicles then make their way to people who can’t afford them new. The people who need the cost savings the most.

“Increasing the efficiency of used cars, which account for 70% of all annual vehicles sales, is especially beneficial to low – and moderate – income households. Fuel efficiency remains steady over time, even as vehicles depreciate, allowing these households to benefit from higher efficiency at a lower cost,” said Barnett.

In short, the Consumers Union said that the information the EPA used when it first completed the review in January was thorough and correct. And that changes since then suggest that automakers can meet the new targets with even less expense.

“Robust standards are good for consumers, the auto industry has demonstrated that they can meet and exceed the existing targets, and federal agencies should ensure this progress continues,” Barnett said.

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