Fewer than 1 in 3 new car shoppers agree with proposed EPA rollback, according to poll


Smog over Los Angeles, courtesy Flickr user steven-buss

Smog over Los Angeles, courtesy Flickr user steven-buss

Only 29 percent of new-car shoppers say they agree with rollbacks to federal fuel-economy standards proposed by the Trump administration, Autolist reported Tuesday.

The survey asked more than 1,100 new-car shoppers if they agreed with the proposed plan to freeze federal emissions standards at 2020 levels. More than 40 percent of respondents said they didn't agree with the plan and 30 percent said they were undecided.

Earlier this month, EPA and NHTSA officials announced a broad plan to roll back scheduled increases in fuel economy standards. The proposed plan said that increasing emissions and fuel-economy regulations would lead to lighter, less safe cars on the road and lead to more fatal crashes. The so-called "SAFER" proposal also added that consumers might be unreasonably burdened by paying more for fuel-saving technology such as turbochargers or continuously variable transmissions.

The study noted that there's no clear correlation between where new-car shoppers live and their opinions of the proposed rollback. While California and other ZEV states have typically supported more stringent fuel-economy standards, residents in the rest of the country may have similar feelings. 

MORE: 8 things you should know about EPA plan to let cars emit more (cutting fuel economy as well)

Half of the respondents said they believed that California should be allowed to set its own fuel-economy standards, while 29 percent disagreed with the decades-long practice. California has set its own emissions standards since the 1960s, before the EPA was created. Since then, 12 other states including the District of Columbia have adopted those standards.

The study may provide insight on carbuyer support for increasing fuel-economy requirements, although the study's timing—immediately after the rollbacks were announced—doesn't address how much information new-car shoppers may have had about the proposed rollback.

Regardless of public opinion, a final decision on Trump's proposed fuel-economy standards may arrive this winter. Experts have predicted that any change in policy may face a long, protracted battle in the courts.

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