Trump administration to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements: U-M experts available

Jim Erickson
Release Date: 


The Trump administration on Thursday formally announced plans to freeze mileage standards designed to make cars more fuel efficient and to reduce pollution. University of Michigan experts are available to comment.

John DeCicco is a research professor at the U-M Energy Institute. He is a nationally known expert on transportation-sector energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and has studied automobile efficiency and emissions for more than 25 years. His engineering-economic research on opportunities to improve fuel economy were instrumental in the development of stronger automotive greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards.

DeCicco has published extensively on the topic; testified about it multiple times before Congress; and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Transitions to Alternative Vehicle and Fuels, which issued a major, three-year study of the issue in 2013. Before joining the U-M faculty in 2009, he was senior fellow for automotive strategies at the Environmental Defense Fund.

“The administration’s proposed freeze of these standards after 2020 reflects a denial of the solid scientific and engineering research that justifies steady, ongoing increases in vehicle efficiency as a critical, cost-effective opportunity to limit U.S. petroleum demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“Transportation is now the nation’s largest source of the excess carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. Automobiles—including cars as well as pickups, SUVs and other light trucks—comprise the largest part of the transportation sector, and so continuous improvement in auto efficiency is absolutely crucial for addressing the nation’s contribution to climate change.

“The administration’s claims that weaker fuel economy standards will improve safety have no statistical grounding and are contradicted by years of evidence to the contrary. It is particularly inconsistent for this administration to be making such false safety claims when it is delaying other rules, notably those for safety-critical smart vehicle connectivity technology, that would clearly save lives.”

A recent piece by DeCicco in The Conversation.

Contact: 734-424-3742, 313-727-7429,

Daniel Raimi is a lecturer at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy and a senior research associate at Resources for the Future. He is an expert on energy policy issues, including oil and gas markets and policy.

“This policy will have negative economic, environmental and energy security consequences. First, it will increase the pain for U.S. drivers when oil prices rise,” he said. “Second, it will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, while the Trump administration says it wants the U.S. to be energy ‘dominant,’ rolling back vehicle efficiency standards is one of the surest ways to ensure U.S. reliance on imported oil.”

Contact: 919-627-4035,

Ellen Hughes-Cromwick is a senior economist at the U-M Energy Institute. She is the former chief economist at Ford Motor Co. and served as chief economist of the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration.

“Today’s announcement that the U.S. administration is seeking comment on its fuel economy rules is looking in the rear view mirror,” she said. “Evidence-based policymaking would suggest that we look ahead to the future of mobility, not back to the legacy views of footprint-based fuel economy standards, much less freezing those standards. Who stands still in the auto industry? No one.

“Our nation’s scientists say it is time to figure out how to incentivize consumers and businesses to put less greenhouse gas in the air for the sake of next generations. Our leaders have a playbook of data, we just need to use it.”

Contact: 734-945-1921,

Barry Rabe is a professor at the U-M Ford School of Public Policy and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has studied the 50-year odyssey of the California vehicle emissions waiver and related implementation issues. As part of that work, he was involved in a three-year project with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences examining environmental and energy policy durability, with a special focus on the Clean Air Act.

“The U.S. vehicle emission program was launched 50 years ago and has been sustained in three successive rounds of congressional review. It provides California with extensive authority to make requests to the federal EPA to tailor standards that meet its unique air quality concerns,” he said.

“More than 120 waivers have been granted in this time, involving every U.S. president and California governor. This new step represents a major departure from this long-standing intergovernmental partnership, raising major questions for its future direction and viability.”

Contact: 734-765-1677,