Wheeler defends car rules rollback in first TV interview

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler yesterday gave his first television interview, sounding off on the proposed rollback of Obama-era clean car rules.

Wheeler told Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign aide, that the rollback would save consumers money and prevent fatalities on the nation’s roads.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month outlined a series of options for the car rules.

The preferred one is freezing fuel economy targets at 2020 levels through 2026, rather than maintaining the year-over-year increases that automakers agreed to under President Obama (Greenwire, Aug. 2).

Wheeler repeated claims that such a move would save more than 1,000 lives a year and save American consumers over $500 billion.

“We really anticipate more new cars will be sold because the prices will be slightly lower,” he said. “And when new cars are sold, they’re safer and they’re cleaner for the environment.”

Economists see errors in EPA’s claims (Climatewire, Aug. 6).

Wheeler also sought to push back on reports that political appointees at the Department of Transportation steamrolled EPA career staff in their rush to finalize the cars proposal (Greenwire, Aug. 2).

“We looked at a lot of data, and we worked with our partners at the Department of Transportation,” Wheeler said.

With regard to the comment period for the proposal, he added, “We want the American public to comment on this. We want to hear from industry, the states, the environmental organizations. We want to make sure that the rule we go final with at the end of the process is the best rule for all Americans.”


Separately, Wheeler met yesterday with political leaders and agribusiness groups at the Iowa State Fair. In between flipping burgers for fairgoers, the acting EPA chief promised to provide regulatory certainty to farmers and landowners in their dealings with the agency.

EPA implementation of the renewable fuel standard has been a major focus point for Iowa lawmakers and advocates. The Renewable Fuels Association launched ads to coincide with Wheeler’s visit.

Wheeler also highlighted the agency’s proposed changes to Obama-era Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule.

The agency will likely unveil a WOTUS proposal within the next 60 days “so you don’t have to hire attorneys and consultants” to implement the rule, Wheeler said, according to The Des Moines Register.