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NHTSA’s acting head reveals resignation amidst stricter fuel economy standards

The NHTSA has operated without an administrator confirmed by the Senate for the last six years.

On December 15, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s (NHTSA) interim director, Ann Carlson, announced that she was resigning, effective December 26.

Before her departure, she oversaw the agency’s investigations into Tesla’s Autopilot and initiatives to tighten fuel economy standards. Carlson also headed probes into airbag ruptures, efforts to lower road fatalities, and the advancement of over 50 safety regulations. In an email, she informed staff members that she was resigning due to a provision restricting the length of time officials can serve a temporary role. However, Carlson, who joined the NHTSA as chief counsel in January 2021, will continue to hold that position until the end of January.

According to Carlson, the new fuel economy standards scheduled for finalization in 2024 “Will save consumers money at the pump, increase our energy independence, and reduce harmful pollutants, including the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.” 

The acting administrator will be Sophie Shulman, deputy administrator of the NHTSA. In addition to her tenure at the Energy Department, Office of Management and Budget, and White House Domestic Policy Council, she was formerly the deputy chief of staff for policy at the Transportation Department.

On December 13, the government reported the number of traffic casualties in the U.S. decreased by 4.5% to 30,435 in the first nine months of this year, following a dramatic increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after facing resistance from Republicans, President Joe Biden withdrew his nomination of Carlson to hold the office permanently in May. Biden still hasn’t chosen a replacement. Congress also rejected Republican attempts to cut Carlson’s pay to $1 motivated by some lawmakers’ outrage over EV policies.

Ultimately, the NHTSA has operated without a permanent administrator confirmed by Congress for most of the last six years. The Senate never confirmed a nominee for the position even throughout the Trump administration.

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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