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Groups Call on NHTSA to Rethink Proposed CAFE Standards that Weaken Energy Security

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposed new fuel economy standards “greatly missed the intent” of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program to enhance energy security, according to technical comments filed today by the Renewable Fuels Association, National Farmers Union and National Corn Growers Association. The proposal, they assert, will lead to an overreliance on foreign critical minerals due to its myopic dependence on electric vehicles.

“As NHTSA determines the appropriate CAFE and fuel efficiency standards, it should avoid putting all our eggs in the electrification basket,” the three national trade associations wrote. “NHTSA’s current proposal greatly missed the intent of the CAFE program. As Congress has acknowledged, solving energy security and air pollution issues related to the transportation sector requires a diversified portfolio of approaches.”

The associations noted an overreliance on electric vehicles that ignores specific challenges of these new vehicles, such as “the increased energy security vulnerabilities flowing from the critical minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries,” as well as the feasibility of the auto industry to produce sufficient volumes, secure needed critical mineral supplies and develop an appropriate workable charging station infrastructure.

The comments conclude with a call on NHTSA to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reinstitute strong incentives for flex fuel vehicles that use lower-carbon, American-made ethanol.

“Whether FFVs currently run on gasoline or E85, building up the portion of the fleet capable of running on E85 gives the country an additional option to address potential future oil or critical mineral crises in a way that can protect our national security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the comments state. “Given vehicles’ long useful life, EPA and NHTSA should not wait for a crisis to incentivize FFVs. It will be too late to act if they are suddenly needed to address a crisis. Instead, the country should plan ahead and build fuel diversity into the system now.”

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