Proposal To Freeze Fuel Efficiency Standards Could Affect Atlanta’s Air

The Trump administration has proposed reversing an Obama-era rule that requires cars and trucks to be increasingly fuel efficient.

The Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks could have an impact on the air in Atlanta. The EPA proposal would keep mileage standards at 2020 level for six years. It’s a reversal of an Obama-era rule that requires cars and trucks to get increasingly efficient, in an effort to limit the pollution that causes climate change.

Jennette Gayer, executive director of the nonprofit Environment Georgia, said Atlanta’s air has gotten cleaner in recent years, but the proposal could slow additional improvements.

“We were on the path to seriously reducing our climate change pollution, seriously reducing the pollutants that trigger asthma attacks, and now it seems like we are not on the same track,” she said. “A large percentage of Atlanta’s air pollution comes from our transportation sector, cars or trucks or buses.”

A group of state attorneys general that doesn’t include Georgia says it will sue to block the proposal.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say they are making the change because requiring cars to be more efficient makes them more expensive, which keeps people driving older cars for longer. That means, people aren’t as safe as they would be if they were driving newer cars with more safety features.

NPR reports that some conservative groups are happy about the proposal, while some medical groups have pushed back:

Brent Gardner, Americans for Prosperity chief government affairs officer, said in a statement that California’s higher fuel standards — and its electric vehicles mandate, in particular — impose costs on carmakers that ultimately are passed on to all consumers.

“Someone in Oklahoma should not be forced to pay more for their truck to subsidize someone’s Tesla in San Francisco,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a group of 10 health and medical organizations, including the American Lung Association, called the suggested policy change a “step backward” in the fight against climate change.

Earlier this year, public health researchers from Emory and Georgia Tech published a study finding that clean air rules had prevented tens of thousands of emergency department visits for cardiac and respiratory issues in Atlanta.