EPA Hearing on Freezing Fuel Standards Gets Mostly Cool Reception in Dearborn

The EPA is holding several hearings across the country about plans to freeze fuel mileage standards set under the Obama Administration. Around 150 people signed-up to comment at a hearing on the proposal in Dearborn, MI, home of the Ford Motor Company.

Alex McLenon


Last month, the Trump Administration presented the Safe Affordable Fuel-Efficiency (SAFE) Vehicle Rules.  The proposed legislation would roll back regulations designed by the Obama Administration to protect the environment.


Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public feedback on the proposed rule changes. The agency is holding three meetings across the country this week to help do so, including one in Dearborn.

Around 150 people signed-up to comment at the session. Most spoke against the regulations put forth by the Trump Administration.

A partisan group known as Moms Clean Air Force had a large presence. They voiced support for the Obama-era air quality standards.

Elizabeth Heltman belongs to the group. She says she believes the proposed changes would have a negative effect on Michigan’s youth.

“We have a 10 percent higher average than the national average of kids here who have asthma,” Heltman says. “232,000 children here in Michigan …My son is one of them.”

The proposed rule changes would also eliminate a waiver that allows California to have its own, more stringent emission laws.

Alex McLenon

Several current and former employees of the EPA’s Ann Arbor laboratory were also at the meeting. Their studies contributed to the automotive regulations set under President Obama. But the researchers say they weren’t consulted on the new SAFE Vehicle Rules.

Jim McCargar worked as an EPA environmental scientist for 20 years. He says the regulations should focus on potential climate change.



“That’s what the purpose of this rule making was originally,” says McCargar. “Now we have a thinly-disguised attempt to roll it back based on bogus safety arguments, fallacious analysis and a complete lack of coordination with the people who created the original standards.” 

The U.S. Department of Transportation counters that the proposed rule changes are about safety.  Earlier this year the department published research showing fewer fatalities occur in newer vehicles.  They say reducing environmental laws would make it easier for consumers to afford new cars with better safety features.

The EPA will accept public comments online through October 26th before making a final decision on the regulations. If approved, the SAFE Vehicle Rules would take effect in time for the 2021 model year.


  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.