EPA to revise fuel economy, emissions standards

03 April, 2018, 06:17 | Author: Homer Porter
  • EPA puts the brake on Obama-era mpg rules

EPA chief Scott Pruitt singled out the Obama administration's push for more stringent emissions and fuel-economy rules in a statement the agency released Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency had until April 1 to complete a review of the emission rule and then either revise them to renew them untouched. Mr. Pruitt said in the statement that California's waiver is being "reexamined".

The announcement will affect vehicles for model years 2022 through 2025. "Obama's EPA. made assumptions about the standards that didn't comport with reality and set the standards too high". As is now the case, automakers will find it hard - and costly - to develop two different classes of vehicles, one to meet the EPA's lower target and the other to comply with California's standards.

More than a dozen states adhere to California's eco-friendly regulation. Another 11 states now follow the California standards and, collectively, they represent more than a quarter of annual US auto sales. Through a CAA waiver granted by EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements.

The clash underscores some of the contradictions of Pruitt's talk of "cooperative federalism", a phrase he uses to justify weakening federal standards to shift environmental regulation to the states.

If Pruitt leaves the waiver in place, it would limit the greenhouse gas damage of Trump's reversal; California has such a large market, it effectively sets standards for the rest of the country since many auto manufacturers don't want to produce vehicles that they can't sell in California.

California Governor Jerry Brown called the EPA move a "cynical and meretricious abuse of power will poison our air and jeopardize the health of all Americans".

Shortly after President Donald Trump took office, however, two agencies - the EPA and the Department of Transportation - reopened the so-called midterm review of the vehicle pollution standards. The government declined to reveal the new number but Pruitt said the EPA will work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a "notice and comment rulemaking to set more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards".

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California officials wasted no time Monday in excoriating the decision.

"It is a move to demolish the nation's clean auto program". EPA's action, if implemented, will worsen people's health with degraded air quality and undermine regulatory certainty for automakers. The agency said today that the standards - which were put in place by the Obama administration in 2012 - are "not appropriate and should be revised". If Pruitt leaves California's legal authority in place, that could leave automakers in a bind; they likely would have to manufacture cars to two sets of standards.

House Republicans Fred Upton of Michigan, John Shimkus of IL and Bob Latta of OH welcomed Pruitt's "reasonable and achievable" move to rollback the standards.

"Slashing these standards would amount to turning the keys to our energy policy over to Big Oil and the auto industry", said the Massachusetts Democrat, who is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and chair of the Senate Climate Task Force. But if the Trump administration rolls back the Obama-era national standards, it would create dueling benchmarks, leading to massive market uncertainty and potentially driving up the price of owning a auto.

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs): "Cleaner and more efficient vehicles means more jobs in innovative technologies and more dollars back in the pockets of small businesses and consumers".

But last week, anticipating Pruitt's decision, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he was prepared to sue the federal government if it tried to scale back the rules.

"The illegal rollback of achievable, common sense fuel efficiency and pollution standards for cars will result in higher fuel costs and more unsafe air pollution, including the carbon dioxide that drives climate change", he said in a statement.

"We're not looking to pick a fight with the Trump Administration but when they threaten our values, we're ready", he said.

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