Minneapolis joins fight against proposed clean-car standards rollback

Minneapolis joined a group of local governments opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed rollback of Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards in September.

The city is part of a coalition planning to submit an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit challenging the proposed rollback. Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law filed an initial motion with a federal court on behalf of the coalition on Sept. 4.

“Vehicle emission standards are the most effective tool for controlling transportation-related emissions, and local governments lack the authority to create their own standards. So the federal standards are of critical importance,” Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center and special counsel at the law school’s Environmental Law Clinic, said in a press release.

The standards, finalized in 2012, would have required companies to target a goal of 54.5 miles per gallon across their fleets by 2025. The vehicles would have needed to have a range between 31 and 61 miles per gallon, depending on the type and size.

The federal government is proposing freezing the standards for six years at the 2020 target of 39 miles per gallon.

“Our proposal aims to strike the right regulatory balance based on the most recent information and create a 50-state solution that will enable more Americans to afford newer, safer vehicles that pollute less,” acting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

In a press release, the city of Minneapolis noted the benefits of the more stringent vehicle-emissions standards, as detailed by an Obama Administration-era EPA analysis. The analysis found that the standards that were to take effect between 2022 and 2025 would save consumers over $1,650 per vehicle. It also found that they would have reduced oil consumption by nearly 40 billion gallons of refined gasoline and diesel fuel and decreased greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons.

Kim Havey, manager of the city’s sustainability division, said decarbonizing transportation is a key for the city to meet its long-term goal of carbon neutrality. He said that the city needs to first and foremost decrease the number of miles people travel in vehicles, especially on solo trips, but that electric cars will also help decrease emissions.
“It’s extremely important that we say we don’t agree with the EPA’s decision,” Havey said, adding that he doesn’t believe the agency has the authority to roll back the standards.