Virginia Elected Officials and Community Leaders Speak Out Against Rolling Back America’s Clean Car Standards

June 28, 2019

Virginia Elected Officials and Community Leaders Speak Out Against Rolling Back America’s Clean Car Standards


(Richmond, VA) – Today, Virginia Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (District 72) and Virginia community leaders gathered for a press conference in Richmond to oppose the proposed rollback of America’s clean car standards by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator Heidi King.

America’s federal clean car standards were finalized in August 2012, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing pollution from the transportation sector. Supported by automakers, unions, national security groups, and environmentalists, these federal fuel economy and pollution standards for new cars and light trucks have been highly effective in protecting our health and our economy, spurring innovation, job creation, and consumer savings in Virginia and in other states.

“Air pollution continues to be a persistent challenge for Virginia communities, and Richmond is one of most challenging places to live with asthma in America. President Trump’s proposal to roll back the successful, money-saving clean car standards that help fight pollution, combat climate change, and spur innovation and investment in the U.S. auto industry will take us in the wrong direction,” said Virginia Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (District 72). “That is why Virginia’s leaders must strongly oppose EPA and NHTSA’s rollback, as well as any attacks from the Trump administration on the Clean Air Act established authority of states to adopt stronger than federal tailpipe pollution standards to protect the health of their residents. Our health and economy are on the line.”

“Uniform, federal standards that limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are one of our best strategies to reduce carbon pollution, mitigate climate change, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas.” Said attorney General Mark Herring. “The Trump Administration’s watered down rule will force Virginians to both breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump, and rolling back these standards will also increase the rising costs of dealing with the impact of climate change. My colleagues and I have been successfully suing to block the Trump Administration’s environmental rollbacks, and I believe this will eventually be yet another win for our coalition and for the environment.

Richmond community leaders noted how the clean car standards have spurred innovation in the U.S. automotive industry, creating new manufacturing and engineering jobs in Virginia and across the country. Richmond ranks in the top 40 cities that are driving clean energy jobs in America. If these standards remain in place, Virginia can expect 13,700 new jobs by 2030, and Virginia households can expect to be on average $2,900 richer by 2030. Furthermore, Virginia has already saved $870 million to date due to these standards.

Speakers also pointed to the public health benefits of the clean car standards. With the transportation sector serving as the largest source of carbon pollution in the country, these standards are the best policy we have on the books to fight climate change. In Virginia, there are over 148,000 children and over 583,000 adults who suffer from asthma. The clean car standards help improve air quality for families across the Greater Richmond Region.

“Virginians deserve clean air.  As a physician, I know that worsening air quality impacts health, especially for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases,” said Dr. Neelu Tummala, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. “That is why our leaders need to oppose the Trump administration’s rollback of the clean car standards that are already working to reduce air pollution, combat climate change, and improve the health of all Virginians.”

 Speakers stressed the importance of protecting the established authority of states under the Clean Air Act to adopt stronger than federal clean car standards in order to protect the health of their residents, a right exercised by 14 states and the District of Columbia, representing over 118 million Americans. In fact, Virginia is a party to the lawsuit defending the existing clean cars program.

“Thanks to America’s clean car standards, consumers have saved billions of dollars at the pump. In fact, these successful, money-saving standards have already saved Virginia $870 million to date, and by 2030, Virginia drivers can expect to be $2,900 richer,” said Alleyn Harned, Executive Director, Virginia Clean Cities Coalition. “Rolling back these standards would gut these savings and harm our local economies, something that Virginia families cannot afford.”

The event was concluded by thanking U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger for her continued support for climate change action in the U.S. House of Representatives and urging her to oppose the EPA and NHTSA proposed rollback of the successful, money-saving clean car standards.

For a video of the press conference, click HERE.