NM Clean Car Advocates Respond to Federal Rollback of Auto Efficiency Standards

April 1, 2020

Travis Madsen, SWEEP, tmadsen@swenergy.org, (720) 669-7488
Nadia Perl, NRDC, nperl@nrdc.org, (415) 294-1878
Sharyn Stein, Environmental Defense Fund, sstein@edf.org, (202) 905-5718
John Ammondson, Environment New Mexico, jammondson@environmentnewmexico.org, (781) 859-9022
Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club, camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org, (505) 715-8388


[ALBUQUERQUE, NM] — The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today finalized action to weaken requirements for auto manufacturers to produce cleaner, more efficient vehicles. The original rules, established in 2010, were designed to double fuel economy and to cut global warming pollution in half for cars sold in 2025. The weaker standards could result in more than 1.5 billion additional metric tons of global warming pollution in our atmosphere by 2040.

The Trump Administration is additionally attacking the authority of states, including New Mexico, to adopt stronger tailpipe pollution limits than those set by the federal government—a move that would take away states’ rights to protect their own residents from harmful pollution.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has stated that New Mexico plans to adopt the state Clean Cars Program, which would ensure that auto manufacturers continue to supply the state with fuel-efficient cars, as well as increase the availability of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Additionally, Attorney General Hector Balderas joined a coalition of states to sue the federal government to preserve state authority to take action against vehicle pollution.

Air pollution has been linked to higher rates of lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Multiple studies have found that high levels of air pollution have also been linked to larger numbers of people hospitalized with pneumonia. Additionally, rolling back clean car standards could cost New Mexico $2.1 billion in net consumer losses. Without these standards, fuel costs for an average new vehicle increase by $3,200 and the cost of ownership for the average new vehicle increases by $2,100.

Following are statements in opposition to today’s rollback from New Mexico clean car advocates including Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, NRDC, Environment New Mexico, Environmental Defense Fund, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Protect Our Winters:

Travis Madsen, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project:  “Now is not the time to retreat on fuel efficiency. Automakers can and should make vehicles that go further on a gallon of gas, or use no gas whatsoever. This federal action will unnecessarily waste energy and money. We thank Governor Lujan Grisham for moving forward on state-level Clean Car rules, and Attorney General Balderas for standing up for New Mexico’s authority to choose a better path.”

Sam Gilchrist, Natural Resources Defense Council: “Clean car standards protect the air we breathe, reduce costs for drivers, and help us tackle the climate crisis. According to the EPA’s own data, these standards have prevented 455 million metric tons of climate-polluting emissions—equivalent to the annual emissions of 100 million vehicles—since President Obama put them in place in 2012. The Trump administration’s illegal and dangerous rollback is an attack on our health and climate, but the fight isn’t over yet. We’ll see the Trump administration in court.”

John Ammondson, Environment New Mexico: “Weakening the clean car standards threatens our climate, our health and the future of our children and grandchildren. When the coronavirus crisis subsides, the climate crisis will still be with us and will continue to accelerate every day that we postpone proactive measures. The administration should focus its energy on protecting the health and well-being of Americans rather than undermining clean air protections.”

Camilla Feibelman, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club: “New Mexicans already face threats to our clean air, from oil and gas pollution to regional haze. We’re about to go over a cliff, and we need to slam on the brakes, but the Trump administration is stepping on the gas. Reversing clean-car standards endanger our public health and undermine what New Mexico stands for: a safer, better future for our children. U.S. car companies have asked the Trump administration to uphold these safeguards, and still the administration persists in making us less safe and our economy less competitive.”

Alice Henderson, Environmental Defense Fund: “The gutting of our nation’s most significant protections against climate and air pollution is unconscionable at any time, but especially now, in the midst of a health crisis. This rollback will increase air pollution, resulting in asthma attacks, other respiratory ailments, and premature deaths – all while costing us more at the gas pump. New Mexicans, and Americans, deserve better.”

Lindsay Bourgoine, Protect Our Winters: “At Protect Our Winters, we work to protect the places and lifestyles passionate outdoor people love from the impacts of climate change. The outdoor community of New Mexico inherently understands the need for systemic policy change to address our warming winters, and that includes drastically reducing emissions from the transportation sector. The Administration’s continued rollbacks of critical policies to slash climate-driving emissions is an attack on the state’s $2.8 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.”