Biden administration to review SAFE Vehicles Rule

By Erin Voegele | January 25, 2021

The U.S. EPA's Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficiency (SAFE) Vehicles Rule is one of the many federal regulations that are set to be reviewed by the Biden administration, according to an executive order issued Jan. 20.

“Our Nation has an abiding commitment to empower our workers and communities; promote and protect our public health and the environment; and conserve our national treasures and monuments, places that secure our national memory,” Biden wrote in the executive order. “Where the Federal Government has failed to meet that commitment in the past, it must advance environmental justice.  In carrying out this charge, the Federal Government must be guided by the best science and be protected by processes that ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making.  It is, therefore, the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.”

The order directs all executive departments and agencies to immediately review, and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions taken during the Trump administration that conflict the national objectives outlined in the executive order, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.

fact sheet issued with the executive order includes a non-exclusive list of agency actions that are to be reviewed. The SAFE Vehicles Rule is among the regulations named in that fact sheet.

The U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first proposed the SAFE Vehicles Rule in August 2018 and issued a final rule on March 31, 2020. The rulemaking replaced CAFE and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards put in place by the Obama administration. The rule did not include new incentives for flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). Members of the ethanol industry criticized the rulemaking for failing to provide a pathway for high-octane, low-carbon fuels.