Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

EPA Staffers Strongly Disagreed Vehicle Emissions Rollback Would Be Safer

Politics
Los Angeles traffic on June 8, 2008. Jeff Turner / CC BY 2.0

Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have justified their proposed rollback of Obama-era vehicle fuel-efficiency standards in part by arguing that higher standards make new cars more expensive, and that freezing standards at 2020 levels would save up to 12,700 lives overall, and up to 1,000 lives per year in the beginning, because people would be more able to purchase newer, safer cars.


But documents made public Tuesday as part of the regulatory process for the new proposal show that several EPA staffers had serious doubts about that conclusion, Reuters reported.

In one memo dated June 18, staffers argued that reducing fuel efficiency standards would actually increase the number of car accident deaths by 17 a year from 2036 through 2045 since there would be more cars on the road. NHTSA had argued that the relaxed standards would save 150 lives per year during the same timeframe.

The EPA also thought the proposal would cost the country $83 billion overall, instead of saving it $49 billion as NHTSA estimated.

"The EPA material seriously casts the whole proposal in a very negative light with respect to its technical adequacy," former EPA director of assessment and standards and current Environmental Defense Fund consultant Chet France told The Washington Post.

EPA expert William Charmley had especially harsh words for the proposal.

"EPA's technical issues have not been addressed, and the analysis performed … does not represent what EPA considers to be the best, or the most up-to-date, information available to EPA," he wrote in one critique less than two months before the final proposal was published, according to The Washington Post.

At one point, he even requested that the EPA name and logo be removed from a document assessing the pluses and minuses of the proposal, called a Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).

The final RIA was published with both agencies' names attached and the final proposal used the NHTSA's logic about accident deaths. But the published proposal was not much different from the version EPA staffers had criticized.

"We know at most they made minor changes, because they're still quoting the thousand fatalities per year," former EPA employee Jeff Alson, who retired in April, told The Washington Post.

Two federal officials told The Washington Post that senior political appointees at the EPA had approved the release of the critical documents, suggesting they shared doubts about the draft proposal's logic. The newly published documents could influence the proposal's final draft.

Others have said the newly revealed documents could bolster the case of states like California, who are prepared to sue to restore standards that would raise fuel efficiency to around 54 miles per gallon by 2026 instead of capping it around 37 miles per gallon.

"The EPA documents challenging the Administration's alleged safety rationale for rolling back fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards are devastating from a legal perspective," former Clinton and Obama Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Hayes told The Washington Post. "If in fact there was internal warfare, that just provides further grist for litigators."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less