Clean Car Standards Give Americans Freedom to Save, No Matter What They Drive

The 4th of July means its peak summer: barbecues, kids at the pool, roadwork, farm stands, and summer driving—in all kinds of vehicles.

July 3, 2019

Now, just as people are looking at gas prices before they get on the road, we’re having a debate in Washington, D.C. about whether to continue America’s strong fuel economy and greenhouse gas reduction standards for cars, SUVs, and trucks. Thanks to those standards, millions of Americans who driving bigger vehicles—families taking their kids to the beach, contractors hauling equipment, farmers heading out to the fields—will be saving big at the pump.

All too frequently the impressive improvements in pickup trucks and SUVs are left out of the story of our nation’s leading fuel economy standards, and opponents of these common sense standards falsely imply that the only way we can get to a clean economy is by driving small cars. What is at stake isn’t the size of your vehicle; it’s whether America will remain a leader in the innovations inside of it.

At a recent hearing on the proposal to rollback the fuel economy and clean car standards, several members of Congress expressed concerns about whether strong standards would impact their constituents’—and even their own—ability to drive a larger vehicle. They seemed to be suggesting that SUVs and trucks aren’t part of the clean economy or part of what we mean when we say “clean vehicles.”

In fact, the opposite is true. Over the past decade—under our existing standards—fuel efficiency improvements in larger vehicles have resulted in huge cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and have saved drivers—both of larger vehicles and cars—billions of dollars. The standards require that all types of vehicles become increasingly fuel efficient and ensure that no matter what kind of vehicle you need or want to drive, you can count on saving money on fuel. This means MORE choices for the families and businesses who need or want a larger vehicle, but who are concerned about what it costs to fuel up. Strong fuel economy standards give all Americans the freedom to buy whatever vehicle they want and save money.

Meanwhile the investments in manufacturing these upgraded vehicles and the innovative technology that goes into them is a prime example of how we protect and build good American jobs making globally competitive technology today and tomorrow.

For example, during the hearing Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) mentioned that in his former career, he drove more than 60,000 miles in a year, relying on a truck with a powerful diesel engine to get him across the state of South Carolina. The engines that go into Chevrolet Duramax diesel trucks like Rep. Duncan’s are proudly built by members of the IUE-CWA Local 755 at the DMAX facility in Moraine, Ohio, which makes Duramax diesel engines for heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. These super efficient diesel engines have won multiple awards in the industry for efficiency and innovative design.

Rep. Duncan wasn’t the only one at the hearing to state the importance of larger vehicles in his district. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) noted that in the mountains of Montana, bigger vehicles are preferred for trekking through the snow. In rural Illinois, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) spoke about his constituents who need large trucks for hauling feed or other agricultural needs. Luckily, for truck and SUV drivers from Montana to South Carolina, options for American-made, innovative, fuel efficient vehicles abound.

Thousands of employees are working to build the clean and advanced technologies that go into these trucks and SUVs—in large part due to our commonsense clean car and fuel economy standards. They are among the more than 288,000 American workers—in more than 1,200 U.S. factories and engineering facilities in 48 states—building parts and materials that make our vehicles more fuel efficient. When we talk about securing and building the clean energy and clean vehicle jobs of the future in the United States, jobs building these innovative pickup trucks, SUVs and cars are precisely the jobs we mean.

At the hearing, not everyone was skeptical.  Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) said he “would do anything” to protect the workers he represents at General Motors’ Arlington, Texas assembly plant. The Arlington Truck plant assembles larger vehicles—the Denali, the Suburban, and the Tahoe—and Mr. Veasey made clear that he does not believe the clean car standards pose any threat to the workforce in Arlington. He’s right, nearly a decade after the implementation of the current standards, the Arlington truck plant remains one of GM’s most profitable facilities worldwide.

In fact, the evidence suggests that the fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards have helped secure investments at facilities like the Arlington assembly plant. Since 2008, automakers have invested over $64 billion in U.S. facilities, in large part to upgrade plants, equipment and processes to build more fuel efficient vehicles. If we rollback these standards, we risk sending these investments by automakers and suppliers, and the accompanying jobs, overseas.

In short, whether you are driving a Ford F-150 to the worksite, or cruising down the coast in a Chevy Corvette, strong fuel efficiency standards are saving you money and gas, while strengthening our economy, cutting pollution, and bringing back American manufacturing jobs. It’s a win-win you can take to the bank, and to the beach.