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Deputy Administrator: James C. Owens

To the Editor: New Fuel Economy and Carbon Dioxide Emissions Standards

April 7, 2020

As submitted to the New York Times.

"Climate Progress Stalls Again, Thanks to Trump’s New Auto Rules,” by Daniel F. Becker and James Gerstenzang (Op-Ed,, April 1), about new fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions standards, was off base.

In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation set high targets and committed to look at the situation again in a few years. This administration followed through.

The 2012 rule’s predictions were wrong. Gas prices are much lower. Automakers invested billions in expensive technologies, but they fall short because American families decided that they prefer trucks and SUVs to compact passenger cars.

You can’t pay for a new vehicle using fuel savings projected across several decades, and you can’t benefit from modern safety technologies if you can’t afford a newer vehicle.

These inconvenient facts led us to a different conclusion. Establishing tough but realistic standards will save about $100 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs — costs baked into sticker prices — helping millions of Americans afford newer, safer, cleaner vehicles.

And because newer vehicles are safer than ever, the SAFE Vehicles Rule will prevent 3,300 crash fatalities. The rule does not touch the Environmental Protection’s strict antipollution standards, and new vehicles added to the fleet will be cleaner than the older vehicles they replace.

James C. Owens and Anne Idsal
Mr. Owens is acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ms. Idsal is principal deputy assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation.