By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory and legal issues, ARTBA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration March 31 finalized the “Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient” (SAFE) vehicles rule, which sets new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for model year 2021-2026 passenger cars and light trucks.
The new rule acknowledges, but does not resolve, concerns raised last year by ARTBA, when EPA revoked California’s waiver to set its own fuel standards. ARTBA warned the agency that it would cause California to fall out of compliance with transportation conformity by not allowing the state to use stricter vehicle emissions standard to meet federal Clean Air Act requirements. This could threaten federal highway funding to the state.
The new rule states that EPA will work with California and the U.S. Department of Transportation to resolve this problem. ARTBA will continue to work with Congress and EPA to be sure vital California transportation projects are protected as the SAFE rule is implemented.
The SAFE Rule will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Read the rule.
ARTBA has advocated for changes to transportation conformity for more than 20 years. The association will continue to pursue holistic reform of this process rather than a piecemeal approach that penalizes individual states by withholding highway funds that could support air quality improving congestion relief projects.