EPA, California must compromise in their fight over weakened fuel-efficiency standards, experts say

Illegal aliens, marijuana and numerous other areas, California has declared itself a nation state, no longer needing the policies of the Federal government.  On environmental issues, it has also declared its independence.

“The Trump administration will have to compromise if it’s serious about maintaining “one national program” for vehicle emissions rules and wants to avoid a legal battle with California, experts say.

California state leaders have defied the Trump administration on issues including climate change, immigration, and taxes – and environmental regulations on cars and trucks is no exception.

California, which can set its own fuel efficiency standards, has fought the Environmental Protection Agency over the proposed weakening of rules set by the Obama administration that would require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.”

Fun and games aside, this harms the manufacturers who want to sell to the 49 States of the U.S. and to California, a separate nation.  This adds to the cost of production and adds to the reason California is so expensive.  Just as the special gas formulas needed for gas sold JUST in California adds to the cost of transportation, this is another area of nullification/independence shown by President Jerry Brown (not a typo).

Jerry Brown state of the state

EPA, California must compromise in their fight over weakened fuel-efficiency standards, experts say

by Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner,  1/29/18

The Trump administration will have to compromise if it’s serious about maintaining “one national program” for vehicle emissions rules and wants to avoid a legal battle with California, experts say.

California state leaders have defied the Trump administration on issues including climate change, immigration, and taxes – and environmental regulations on cars and trucks is no exception.

California, which can set its own fuel efficiency standards, has fought the Environmental Protection Agency over the proposed weakening of rules set by the Obama administration that would require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

A top EPA official said Thursday at the Washington Auto Show, which opens for the general public this week, that the agency wants to make nice with California.

“This obviously is a very important issue, and I have no interest whatsoever in withdrawing California’s ability to regulate,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum, who leads the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation. “From a good solid public policy standpoint, the very best outcome for all of us to achieve is one national program.”

Wehrum added the EPA has had “productive conversations” with the California Air Resources Board, and said the agency intends to meet the April 1 deadline for setting vehicle emissions standards for 2022-2025 model years.

A spokesman for the California Air Resources Board told the Washington Examiner it plans to “stay at the table” in negotiations with the EPA.

But the California Air Resources Board has previously warned the state could withdraw from the nationwide vehicle emissions program if the EPA limits the Obama regulations.

Experts who favor one nationwide program instead of a “patchwork” of unaligned rules say the Trump administration will have to compromise if it wants to keep California in line.

“California and the federal government need to get together to solve this problem,” said Robbie Diamond, president and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy, a nonprofit that seeks to reduce the U.S.’ demand for oil through improved vehicle efficiency. “Car companies are at pivotal moment with all this new technology coming at them at a fast speed. To get a solution, we think there has to be a clear signal from the federal government that they are willing to provide a lower number for fuel efficiency in the short-term to get the largest number in the long-term.”

Diamond says the EPA should propose tougher rules for 2026-2030, when he says carmakers would be better equipped to adapt to technological changes, in exchange for weakening the standards for the 2022-2025 vehicles.

Dave Cooke, a senior vehicle analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, doubts the Trump administration would consider proposing rules for years after 2025. That’s because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which administers the fuel efficiency standards program, can only finalize rules every five years.

“I don’t anticipate EPA making 2030 standards under the current administration,” Cooke said.

Automakers have pressed for relief from the rules the Obama administration set for 2022-2025, arguing low gasoline prices have weakened consumer demand for hybrid-electric cars and smaller, fuel-efficient models.

Less fuel-efficient SUVs and light trucks have become more popular in recent years, meaning manufacturers are having difficulty hitting the fuel-efficiency targets, automakers say.

A recent EPA report determined the auto industry missed its emissions target for the first time in 2016, a finding that automakers have used as evidence the standards are too stringent.

The Association of Global Automakers, the main trade group representing manufacturers of automobiles and light duty trucks, would not comment.

California, however, has long fought to go its own way.

Federal law since 1967 has allowed California, because of severe air pollution problems caused by smog, to obtain a waiver allowing it to set its own fuel efficiency regulations that are tougher than the national standards.

Other states can follow those instead. Collectively, states representing roughly 40 percent of the U.S. car market abide by California’s rules.

California Gov. Jerry Brown called the Trump administration’s decision to review the standards a “gift to polluters” in a letter last year to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The state is the nation’s largest market for zero-emission, electric vehicles. There were 25,000 electric vehicles on California’s roads in 2012, compared to more than 350,000 today.

Brown, a Democrat, issued an executive order Friday to put at least 5 million electric cars on California roads by 2030.

Moody’s recently predicted that electric vehicles, which are now less than 1 percent of global car sales, will grow to 17 to 19 percent of the market by 2030.

Cooke says the U.S. has benefited from California’s leadership in cleaning up the auto industry, and the Trump administration should strive to keep up with the state’s standards.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.