Products Liability Law Daily DOT and EPA propose SAFE Vehicles Rule to address fuel economy and emissions standards
Thursday, August 2, 2018

DOT and EPA propose SAFE Vehicles Rule to address fuel economy and emissions standards

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which the agencies say is designed to correct the national automobile fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards in order to give the American people greater access to safer, more affordable vehicles that are cleaner for the environment. According to a DOT news release, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks (SAFE Vehicles Rule) is the next generation of the Congressionally-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards, and the NPRM is the first formal step in setting the 2021-2026 model year standards that must be achieved by each automaker for its car and light-duty truck fleet. NHTSA and EPA are requesting public comments on the NPRM, the analysis on which it is based, and a variety of alternative options for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. The agencies also will also host three public hearings on the matter in Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Los Angeles (U.S. Department of Transportation News Release, August 2, 2018).

In April 2018, the EPA issued the Mid-Term Evaluation Final Determination, which found that the model year 2022-2025 greenhouse gas standards are not appropriate and should be revised. Moreover, the DOT asserts that the current standards, which were finalized in 2012, have been a factor in the rising cost of new automobiles to an average of $35,000 or more. If kept in place, the current greenhouse gas standards would increase the cost of owning a new car by $2,340, and would "impose more than $500 billion in societal costs on the U.S. economy over the next 50 years," according to the news release. Additionally, because an April 2018 NHTSA study concluded that new model year vehicles are safer than older vehicles based on accident outcomes, the Trump Administration wants to relax the restrictions of the current standards so that more Americans can afford "newer vehicles with more advanced safety features, better fuel economy, and associated environmental benefits."

Accordingly, the NPRM presents a wide range of regulatory options, including a preferred alternative that locks in model year 2020 standards through 2026, providing a time-out from further, costly increases. The agencies claim that this preferred alternative reflects a balance of safety, economics, technology, fuel conservation, and pollution reduction, and will prevent thousands of on-road fatalities and injuries as compared to the standards set forth in the 2012 final rule. The joint proposal initiates a process to establish a new 50-state fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standard for passenger cars and light trucks covering model years 2021 through 2026.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANews MotorVehiclesNews

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