Drivers are not helpless in the face of government plans to roll back fuel economy standards.

A joint August proposal from the EPA and NHTSA to freeze planned increases in fuel economy standards is out for public comments until Oct. 23.

Public comments can make a difference.

DON'T MISSTrump administration releases proposal to weaken fuel economy, emissions standards

Margot Oge, who headed the office of air quality and transportation at the EPA under President Obama, told The New York Times that public hearings leave a lasting impression on regulators, because stories are often personal and regulators are required to listen to all comments.

Public comments also become part of the legal record if regulations wind up in court, says David Friedman, vice president of Consumer Reports, and former acting director of NHTSA. 

There has hardly been a regulation more likely to land in court than the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule (SAFER), proposed by the EPA and NHTSA to freeze increases in fuel economy standards passed by the Obama administration.

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California regulators have said they will not abide by the new standards, and joined with 16 other states to sue the EPA even before the new regulation was proposed.

Under public comment requirements, the EPA and NHTSA will hold three public hearings about the SAFER proposal:

- Sept. 24 at The Grand in Fresno, California (1401 Fulton Street.)

- Sept. 25, at the Dearborn Inn in Dearborn, Michigan (20301 Oakwood Blvd.)

- Sept. 26 at the DoubleTree Inn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1 Bigelow Square.)

The hearings last from 10 am to 5 pm local time, or until all commenters have had their opportunity to speak. (On this proposal, it strikes us that could run well into the night.)

Those who would like to speak at one of the meetings need to register at least 10 days in advance by writing to the NHTSA'S coordinator for the event, Kil-Jae Hong at [email protected].

Those who cannot make it to the meetings but would still like to comment can visit the Federal Register online and leave a  comment here.