As fuel prices continue to climb throughout Idaho, you’d think everyone would support more fuel-efficient vehicles. Sadly that’s not the case. Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly stated his interest in rolling back corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, which require automakers to achieve certain fuel economy standards across their fleets. If fulfilled, rolling back CAFE standards will disrupt local highway planning efforts, harm Idaho’s environment, impair our economy, and jeopardize our health and quality of life.

While Pruitt’s intentions are clear, the decision hasn’t been made yet. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the major effects that this rollback could have on Idaho. After reading this blog, contact your elected officials to share your support for the existing CAFE standards.

Unnecessary Risk to Our Health and Environment

Less efficient vehicles burn more fuel, which in turn releases more air pollutants. These pollutants put us at a greater risk of violating the federal air quality standards, standards that were put in place to protect our health. Exceeding these thresholds can cause a variety of short- and long-term health problems. Not only is it harmful to individual members of a community, but poor air quality also places a greater stress on Idaho’s medical facilities that must treat increasing numbers of people struggling with related health issues.

Effects on Our Economy

Rolling back CAFE standards increases the likelihood of areas being designated as “nonattainment areas” under the Clean Air Act. A nonattainment area has unsafe levels of air pollution. All existing air emissions get capped in these regions, leaving little room for new or expanding industries. To mitigate air pollution, stricter emissions limits are often placed on industrial facilities ┬áto make up for other, less controllable polluting sources such as transportation. Given all these factors, nonattainment areas are economically unappealing to new and expanding industries.

Another negative impact comes from the fact that Idaho largely imports fuel from other states. While Idaho is experiencing some oil and gas activity, this development has primarily produced natural gas instead of oil. Based on current data, it appears unlikely that our state will ever produce oil, let alone in quantities to meet our demand. Simply put, cars that get poor gas mileage cost Idaho money. Forcing our citizens to spend more money on fuel sends this money out of state, instead of making it available for purchasing Idaho’s goods and services.

Poor Use of Taxpayers’ Money

When new standards are put in place, cities and state agencies must create plans demonstrating how they will comply with the new limits. Current air quality plans use the existing CAFE standards. If the CAFE standards are rolled back, Idaho’s state and local plans may be invalidated, ┬ámeaning that we’d have to start over and create new plans. Not only is this a waste of taxpayers’ money, this could also significantly affect what sorts of economic, highway and community growth can occur throughout our state.

Tell Idaho’s Congressional Delegates You Support Existing CAFE Standards

Our elected congressional delegates need to know that the people they represent support more fuel-efficient vehicles. Take a moment to contact your senators and representative today to say you support the existing CAFE standards!