PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts Praise New SAFE Vehicles Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency today finalized the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule. It will apply to vehicle model years 2021 to 2026 and reduces the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rule imposed by the Obama administration in 2012 from about 5 percent per year to just 1.5 percent annually.

The previous CAFE standards required new automobile fleets to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025. The new standards enacted by the Trump administration require fleets to reach 40 miles per gallon by 2026. According to the Trump administration, the lowered CAFE standards will save lives, lower the price of vehicles, and increase availability of automobile variants.

The following statements from environment and energy experts at The Heartland Institute—a national free-market think tank—may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Digital Media Manager Andy Singer at [email protected] and 312/377-4000.


“The Trump administration’s decision to rein in the federal government’s dangerous fuel economy standards is pro consumer choice and pro public safety. This rule will help keep cars and trucks on the road that the public wants to drive, and will save lives by keeping larger, heavier vehicles that, all other things being equal, are inherently safer.

“Soccer moms, farmers, anglers, and everyday commuters can thank Trump for allowing them to drive the SUVs, minivans, large sedans, and trucks they need to carry their kids to school and events, haul trailers, or move furniture and appliances.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
[email protected]


“The Trump administration should be applauded for pumping the brakes on the Obama-era increase in CAFE stringency. The idea that consumers would be better off by restricting their freedom to choose—the presumption at the heart of strict CAFE standards—is false. Consumers are better positioned than regulators to choose the size, fuel economy, and other features of the cars and trucks they buy. This rollback will save Americans money, and for some, it will save their lives.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]


“The SAFE Vehicles Rule, jointly issued by the NHTSA and EPA, correctly puts an end to this rush to hyperregulation pursued by the state of California and the Obama administration. Despite claims to the contrary, this is not an attack on federalism. Rather, it simply restores the proper federal role in regulating interstate commerce.

“California was using its massive market size and the economic reality of automobile manufacturing to create a burdensome de facto national standard, which resulted in higher traffic fatalities, and, perversely, an older fleet due to the higher cost of new vehicles. The Trump administration’s better regulatory approach equates to safer vehicles and more consumer choice.”

Aaron Stover
Director of Federal Government/Corporate Relations
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]


“The increasingly stiff CAFE standards have turned many automobiles and light trucks into paper thin metal and plastic shells in order to reduce weight and increase mileage at the expense of safety.

“Because of the COVID-19 crisis, automobile driving is down an estimated 85 percent. So far, there has been no sign of carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere slowing down, suggesting automobile emissions aren’t the major cause of so-called global warming from increased carbon dioxide.”

Anthony Watts
Senior Fellow
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]