Kochs' Americans for Prosperity Group Launches Campaign to Crush Fuel Economy Standards

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Shell station sign showing gas prices around $5.00 a gallon in 2008

Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a political advocacy network funded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, recently launched a campaign to support President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back fuel efficiency and automobile emissions standards.

Through social media feeds of the many AFP state chapters, the group is promoting a petition to “Repeal Costly Obama-era Fuel Standards.”

The Trump administration has proposed ending costly Obama-era fuel economy rules. This move will save money AND lives,” urged one Tweet from AFP’s national account. State chapters echoed variations of that theme.

The petition, which has been active for at least one week, currently has accumulated 180 signatures.

Without linking or referencing any specific studies or resources, the petition claims that repealing these standards will both save lives and make vehicles cheaper.

“The [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] EPA and [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] NHTSA have proposed a new rule that would amend costly Obama-era fuel economy standards, saving American consumers thousands of dollars on vehicles.

According to the EPA, amending these regulations will save consumers more than $2,300 in overall average ownership costs for a new vehicle. On top of that, it is expected that these reforms will save 1,000 lives per year by making it easier for Americans to afford safer, newer vehicles.

Sign this letter in support of this proposed rule change, and tell the federal government to put American consumers first!” 

The group doesn’t cite sources, because the figures are cherry-picked and misleading.

In fact, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the rollbacks proposed by Trump’s agencies would cost the average consumer more than $1,600 in total ownership costs over the life of the vehicle, even when factoring in any increased purchase costs. The Obama-era standards will save drivers so much in gasoline, they more than offset the costs that manufacturers might pass along to buyers.

As for the safety argument, a study released last year examining vehicle weight and traffic fatalities proved exactly the opposite of what the Trump EPA and the Americans for Prosperity petition claim. Instead, stronger fuel efficiency standards should reduce traffic fatalities.

What the paper shows is that even if those environmental benefits are very, very low, if nothing else, from a safety reason, you have a reason to move forward with the standards,” Antonio Bento, an environmental economics expert at the University of Southern California and one of the study’s co-authors, told the Washington Post at the time.

Main image: Gas prices in San Francisco on June 11, 2008. Credit: Original photo by Scott SchillerCC BY 2.0

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