Local Leaders, Advocates Encourage EPA to Keep Clean Car Standards

Baihly Warfield
December 21, 2017 10:49 PM

Local leaders and environmental advocates are encouraging President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt not to roll back Obama-era clean car standards. 

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Pruitt is in the midst of a re-evaluation of former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's decision that automakers could keep up with the goal of about 55 mpg on cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. By 2025. 

"It is the single greatest thing that we have done as a country to help roll back the effects of climate change," John Doberstein with the Sierra Club's North Star chapter said. 

Doberstein along with other environmental advocates, a Duluth city councilor and representative of the United Steelworkers said the current administration should continue the work of the last one. 

"With the steel industry, it starts right here in Minnesota, in northern Minnesota," Mike Woods with the United Steelworkers, said. "We have the facilities that produce the taconite that starts the process."

It's an issue the USW and the Sierra Club agree on. 

"We do work together when we have common ground," Woods said. "It supports our industry. I think it's a no-brainer for the consumers."

City Council President Joel Sipress said Duluth has been a leader on clean air and energy efficiency. And he wants the federal government to do the same. 

"We need the federal government to keep their end of the bargain by maintaining these clean car standards," Sipress said. "We need the federal government to follow our lead, our lead, to protect these clean car standards and work with us in our community to address climate change and to save families money." 

Doberstein said they also want to remind Sen. Amy Klobuchar to stay strong on the CAFE standards. 

Obama announced the new standards in 2011. They took effect on cars sold in the U.S. Beginning in 2017. By 2025, cars and light trucks are required to average about 55 miles to the gallon.

Part of the deal was a mid-term evaluation. In January 2017, Gina McCarthy decided to maintain the greenhouse gas reduction goals. She said that automakers have a variety of technology options and were well on their way to meeting the standards. 

McCarthy wrote that the rules would save consumers money and provide health benefits. 

She also said that automakers outperformed the standards for the first four years and that vehicle sales had increased for the last seven years. 

But President Trump asked for a re-evaluation of that mid-term decision, which could be the first step in relaxing the standards. 

He said auto manufacturers have been hurt and that working on the fuel efficiency rules will allow them to be able to afford to continue manufacturing cars in the United States. 

He promised punishments for companies that move abroad. 

But supporters of the clean car standards don't agree. 

"The clean car standard creates great jobs," Doberstein said. "Four thousand jobs in Minnesota alone in manufacturing and engineering."

The formal comment period on the re-evaluation closed in October. But the Sierra Club said they want to keep the issue in the public because they expect some action soon. 

The EPA must make a decision by April 1. 


Baihly Warfield

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