Trump Administration Announces One National Program Rule on Federal Preemption of State Fuel Economy Standards
WASHINGTON (September 19, 2019) — President Trump promised the American people that his Administration would address and correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, and today, his Administration is taking steps to fulfill this promise.
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an initial step towards finalizing the proposed Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule by issuing a final action entitled the “One National Program Rule,” which will enable the federal government to provide nationwide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and light duty trucks.
A top priority for President Trump, when finalized, the proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule standards would establish attainable fuel economy and GHG vehicle emissions standards that will help ensure that more Americans have access to safer, more affordable, and cleaner vehicles that meet their families’ needs. The SAFE rule’s standards are projected to save the nation billions of dollars and strengthen the U.S. domestic manufacturing base by adding millions of new car sales. Most importantly, because newer cars are safer than ever before, the new standards are projected to save thousands of lives and prevent tens of thousands of Americans from being hospitalized by car crashes.
“Today’s action meets President Trump’s commitment to establish uniform fuel economy standards for vehicles across the United States, ensuring that no State has the authority to opt out of the Nation’s rules, and no State has the right to impose its policies on the rest of the country,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
“Today, we are delivering on a critical element of President Trump’s commitment to address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “One national standard provides much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry and sets the stage for the Trump Administration’s final SAFE rule that will save lives and promote economic growth by reducing the price of new vehicles to help more Americans purchase newer, cleaner, and safer cars and trucks.”
Today’s action finalizes critical parts of the SAFE Vehicles Rule that was first proposed on Aug. 2, 2018. This action brings much-needed certainty to consumers and industry by making it clear that federal law preempts state and local tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards as well as zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates. Specifically, in this action, NHTSA is affirming that its statutory authority to set nationally applicable fuel economy standards under the express preemption provisions of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act dictates that such state and local programs are preempted. For its part, EPA is withdrawing the Clean Air Act preemption waiver it granted to the State of California in January 2013 as it relates to California’s GHG and ZEV programs. California’s ability to enforce its Low Emission Vehicle program and other clean air standards to address harmful smog-forming vehicle emissions is not affected by today’s action.
This action will help ensure that there will be one, and only one, set of national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles. The agencies continue to work together to finalize the remaining portions of the SAFE Vehicles Rule, to address proposed revisions to the federal fuel economy and GHG vehicle emissions standards.
In today’s One National Program Rule, NHTSA and EPA have made the following determinations:
Pursuant to Congress’s mandate in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, only the federal government may set fuel economy standards, and state and local governments may not establish their own separate fuel economy standards. This includes state laws that substantially affect fuel economy standards (such as tailpipe GHG emissions standards and ZEV mandates).
In addition, EPA is withdrawing the 2013 Clean Air Act waiver that authorized California to pursue its own tailpipe greenhouse gas emission standard (fuel economy standard) and ZEV mandate. As a result, these two programs are also prohibited by the Clean Air Act.
Moving forward, California must continue to enforce its programs to address smog and other forms of traditional air pollution caused by motor vehicles. The state must redouble its efforts to address the worst air quality in the United States and finally achieve compliance with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, where for decades it has failed to address serious, severe, and extreme non-compliance status in several areas within the state.