Trump administration officials at EPA and DOT ignored repeated warnings from agency staff and White House economists of significant deficiencies in the factual and legal justifications for the administration’s rollback of existing mileage standards, according to two new reports.
Legal experts widely agree the agencies’ failures to address the concerns, as well as the failure to publish interagency correspondence, could undermine the administration’s ability to defend the rule against legal challenges, the Washington Post and E&E reported. Newly revealed administration communications show warnings came from EPA staff and OMB economists.
The Trump administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule would reduce annual fuel efficiency improvements from the 5% required under the Obama-era standards to just 1.5% per year. “The [EPA] here has adopted a rule that, by their own analysis and all scenarios, hurts the public and runs contrary to the agency’s mandate,” Peter Zalzal, lead attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund told the Post. “It is increasing fuel use, it is increasing pollution and it is hurting the public.”