Trump Promised His Mileage Standards Would Make Cars Cheaper and Safer. New Documents Raise Doubts About That.

In Environment On

President Trump has said his plan to weaken federal mileage standards would make cars cheaper and “substantially safer.” But the administration’s own analysis suggests that it would cost consumers more than it would save them in the long run, and would do little to make the nation’s roads safer.

The revised Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, which has not been released publicly, would require automakers to increase the average fuel efficiency of the nation’s fleets by 1.5 percent per year between model years 2021 and 2026. Rules put in place by the Obama administration, by comparison, require a nearly 5 percent annual increase.

If finalized, the proposal would mandate more progress on fuel efficiency than the Trump administration’s initial effort to freeze fuel standards in the years ahead. But the new analysis, outlined in a letter Wednesday by Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), projects that the benefits of Trump’s proposed rollback would not significantly outweigh the costs. Trump’s approach would lower the sticker price of new cars, according to the documents, but drivers would spend more at the gas pump over time by driving less efficient vehicles.

Writing to a top OMB official, Carper said that the latest draft proposal from the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency “would dramatically weaken future vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, without providing the purported safety or economic benefits that were touted by the Trump administration.”

“In short, the SAFE Vehicles rule, if finalized in its present form, will lead to vehicles that are neither safer, nor more affordable or fuel-efficient,” wrote Carper, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I urge you to require EPA and DOT to abandon these efforts entirely.”

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