Flawed Proposal to Roll Back Fuel Economy and Emissions Standards Will Cost Thousands of Jobs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released their plan to roll back the nation’s successful vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards. The current standards have spurred innovation and investment across the nation’s automotive and manufacturing sectors and are helping create and preserve jobs across America.

August 2, 2018

In the proposal, the agencies estimate that the roll back will deeply cut industry investment and cost U.S. jobs compared to the current standards. Compared to current standards through 2030, the agencies’ projections show the roll back will result in 60,000 fewer jobs.

“Walking back from the nation’s current strong fuel economy standards is a mistake, plain and simple. For years the nation has reaped the benefits of these world-leading standards. Weakening these standards hits the brakes on American innovation and endangers jobs,” BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas said.

“Automakers and suppliers have made billions of dollars in investments and created hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide ensuring that any vehicle a consumer chooses to buy—whether a car, truck, or SUV—gets more efficient every year. Strong standards keep that investment flowing and those jobs secure. Rolling them back means we lose ground in the race with China and other countries to design and build the best new vehicles and risk losing more American auto jobs to other nations,” Glas continued.

In a report released earlier this year, Driving Investment: How Fuel Efficiency is Rebuilding American Manufacturing, the BlueGreen Alliance identified a total of $76 billion in new and promised automaker investment in the nation’s automotive plants since 2008. While some of that $76 billion represents business-as-usual investment, a significant portion is new, added, or enhanced investment in the innovative products and manufacturing processes to meet the nation’s commonsense fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. The report illustrates how standards drive innovation and enhance manufacturing growth, and it shows how what are often described as the “costs” of compliance with clean vehicle standards actually represent a multi-billion dollar reinvestment in American manufacturing and jobs nationwide.

Driving Investment builds on a May 2017 report, Supplying Ingenuity II: U.S. Suppliers of Key Clean Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies, from the BlueGreen Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which underscores how leading vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards have been critical to the automotive recovery, and remain critical to sustaining it. The report found that more than 288,000 workers in 1,200 factories and engineering facilities in 48 states are employed building the components, materials, and technology that make today’s vehicles more fuel efficient.

An expert from the BlueGreen Alliance said that the administration’s proposal would put that investment and those jobs at risk.

“We urge the administration to reconsider this embarrassingly weak and economically harmful proposal. It would cede leadership in critical automotive technology to other nations and disrupt investment and job growth in manufacturing communities across the U.S.,” Zoe Lipman, Director of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Vehicles and Advanced Transportation Program said.

Lipman added that the administration’s effort to frame this as a debate over vehicle safety is a curious choice. “Automakers and suppliers innovating together with stronger, lighter steel, aluminum and other materials are proving every day that vehicles can be both safer and more fuel efficient than they’ve ever been,” said Lipman.

“There is still time to make a better decision for American workers, the U.S. manufacturing sector, consumers, and the environment. We urge the administration to bring the agencies and California back to the table to hammer out a rule they can all agree to—one that delivers sound, long-term, coordinated standards that sustain America’s leadership in technology and manufacturing, protect consumers from swings in gas prices, and protect and grow jobs here, not send our jobs abroad,” Lipman continued.