Statement of Emmie Theberge, Federal Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“Today, the Trump Administration announced its plan to roll back America’s clean car standards and attack Maine’s legal right to protect the health of our fellow citizens. This proposal would pollute Maine’s air, threaten Mainers’ health, and force Maine people to spend billions more dollars at the gas pump.
“America’s car emission standards reduce air pollution that harms the health of all Mainers, and especially the most vulnerable among us – youngsters, older people and the ill. Maine sits at the ‘tailpipe’ of the nation, with prevailing winds blowing pollution from other states into Maine. Cars and trucks are a leading source of this pollution, which increases breathing problems like asthma and bronchitis. Here in Maine, where we already suffer from one of the nation’s highest asthma rates, we cannot afford to roll back standards that help clean up air pollution. Weakening standards that limit air pollution from cars will make it harder for all Mainers to breathe and will literally cost some their lives.
“The Trump Administration’s proposal adds insult to injury by also eliminating states’ rights to set our own clean car standards. This rollback would prohibit Maine and other states from setting better tailpipe pollution standards for cars and trucks. For more than a decade, Maine and the other states have used our rights under the Clean Air Act to limit tailpipe pollution beyond federal minimum requirements. Maine wants cleaner cars nationwide because upwind pollution matters so much to us, so we’ve done our part by using the best clean car standards available. This proposed rollback puts all that at risk.
“The 10 states, including Maine, that have adopted cleaner car standards are home to 113 million Americans and more than one-third of cars sold nationwide. But the Trump Administration wants to forbid states from putting put stronger pollution protections in place and to force states like Maine to sink to the weakest standard in the nation, instead of doing what’s best for their citizens.
“Cars and trucks are becoming the largest source of the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate. The clean car standards established by the Obama Administration in cooperation with car makers were one of the biggest actions taken to date to address climate change. Whether you are concerned about ticks and Lyme disease or extreme storms and sea-level rise or countless other climate risks, this rollback is bad news for Maine.
“Finally, gas prices are now at a four year high, and Maine families can’t afford to spend more of their money at the pump driving what will be some of the least-efficient cars on the planet. When our cars and trucks get more miles to the gallon, Mainers save money at the gas pump. Lower- to middle-income households report spending up to 10 percent of their income on gasoline; whenever the price of gas spikes, that figure increases. Rolling back fuel efficiency standards will harm hardworking Mainers who need them the most.
“We urge Maine’s elected officials at all levels to oppose this harmful rollback proposal and protect the air we breathe and our wallets, too.”
Background: Earlier in 2018, the EPA under then-Administrator Scott Pruitt announced it was starting the process to unravel a national clean car standard that was developed between the Obama Administration, carmakers, and others. Those standards created a long-term pathway to cleaner cars by the year 2030. Today’s proposal would be the final step to replace those clean car standards with weaker ones that allow higher pollution levels and less fuel-efficient cars. It requires public comment and final action by the EPA to take effect. The proposal also begins the process to undermine the authority, under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act, for California to set its own clean car standards and for other states to adopt those standards. The Obama standards had harmonized the national standards with the California standard.