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Emission/Fuel Standards Changes: clean air vs big money

Trump announced that his administration would reopen emissions mandates and examine the standards into 2018. Separately an official stated that reopening the review does not guarantee that the standards will be weakened. In response to the news there were several statements and news releases pushed out to the media as well as new lawsuits.

Consumer Advocates

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, responded to the Environmental Protection Agency’s withdrawal of its final determination for fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks for model years 2022 through 2025.

“The Administration should reconsider today’s action. The EPA finalized the standards after a thorough study of costs and benefits. A decision to withdraw the standards is nonsensical, as it would merely funnel more money to oil companies at consumers’ expense and halt the progress that can be made in both savings for consumers and vehicle efficiency. The standards already take the cost into account, and the record shows that they are a reasonable, cost-effective approach to improving fuel efficiency and lowering consumers’ expenses.”

“EPA conducted a robust review of these standards for nearly two years, taking into account the input from automakers, including thousands of pages of technology and cost assessments, and concluded that the standards were appropriate. By rejecting the EPA’s final determination now, its new Administrator is signaling the agency plans to weaken the standards instead”

Fuel economy and safety have both improved while vehicle sales have hit new records and, as our new report shows, entry-level car prices have remained steady.

“Unlike other updates found in today’s vehicles — like new luxury, convenience and technology upgrades — fuel economy technologies are the only ones that pay for themselves. In our studies of the fuel economy standards, we found consumers could expect significant net fuel savings – up to $3,200 per car and $4,800 per truck – over the life of the vehicle, even with low gas prices. Weakening the standard now would mean consumers would lose out on some of those savings. For middle class families struggling to pay bills, raising costs at the pump is a bad deal” ” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union.

Consumers Union recently issued a new report debunking industry claims that fuel economy standards have hurt vehicle affordability. The study examined the price of vehicles over the last 20 years and found that prices remained steady even as fuel economy improved. The findings show that all households benefit from improved fuel economy, but particularly lower-income households who spend a higher percentage of their income on fuel. Thanks to improved fuel economy, an average new car buyer in 2015 saved $523 in fuel costs annually when compared to an average 2005 vehicle.

Environmental Entrepreneurs- Bob Keefe, executive director of the national, nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2):

“You have to wonder what is motivating the Trump administration to drive such a successful, Made-in-America policy into a ditch. It’s simply reckless and irresponsible, and will once again put America in the rearview mirror of foreign automakers that will be glad to dominate the market for the next generation of more efficient vehicles.

“These standards are helping spur production of the auto industry’s most efficient vehicles cars and trucks that save consumers and businesses money, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and reducing pollution along the way,” he said.

E2 was founded by business people who helped advocate for the country’s first greenhouse gas emissions limits for vehicles, which were passed by the state of California in 2002 and became the foundation for the federal emissions standards. California’s groundbreaking legislation helped spur innovation in the auto and fuels industries creating thousands of jobs and ultimately helped advance widespread adoption of hybrid, electric and alternative fuels vehicles.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 259,000 Americans now work in clean vehicle production. Those jobs, along with hundreds of millions of dollars saved through fuel efficiency by businesses and consumers alike, are now at risk because of the Trump administration’s shortsighted actions, according to Keefe.

Oil Industry

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the oil and gas industry:

“AFPM is encouraged by President Trump’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will reopen its midterm review of Model Year 2022-2025 greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for light-duty vehicles.

“In rushing the midterm final determination out the door more than a year early, the Obama Administration short-circuited significant technical, economic, and policy analyses, and the full public debate that this issue warrants. Today’s decision will allow EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California, and other stakeholders to work together to make a transparent decision grounded in factual analyses rather than ideology.”

–Statement by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President and CEO Chet Thompson.

The federal government doesn’t control California Air Quality Standards where the highest number of vehicles are sold, California:

The State of California:

In response California Governor Browns office issued the following:

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon t blasted the cynical ploy by the Trump administration and auto manufacturers to roll back vehicle pollution standards finalized earlier this year. In coordinated action, on the same day the Trump administration moved to weaken these standards, the auto manufacturers also challenged them in federal court.

“President Trump’s decision today to weaken emission standards in cars is an unconscionable gift to polluters. Once again, you’ve put the interests of big oil ahead of clean air and politics ahead of science,” said Governor Brown in a letter sent today to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The state also announced  that California is intervening in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed Monday by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The industry lawsuit challenges the U.S. EPA’s January 2017 determination that 2022-25 vehicle fuel pollution standards are feasible. These standards were originally adopted in 2012 as part of an agreement between the car manufacturers, the federal government and the California Air Resources Board.

“Your action to weaken vehicle pollution standards – standards your own members agreed to – breaks your promise to the American people,” said Governor Brown in a separate letter to automobile manufacturers. “Please be advised that California will take the necessary steps to preserve the current standards and protect the health of our people and the stability of our climate.”

If granted, California’s motion – filed late Tuesday – would allow the state to defend the feasibility determination and prevent efforts to undo the 2022-25 standards, which are based on rigorous environmental and engineering analysis and review.

“California is forward-leaning – you don’t become the world’s fifth largest economy by sitting back,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “For us, clean air, good-paying jobs and quality of life go hand-in-hand. For us, there’s no turning back in the fight against pollution.”

The U.S. EPA’s own analysis shows that over the lifetime of these cars, the 2022-25 vehicle emission standards would:
– Save consumers more than $1,650 per vehicle.
– Reduce oil consumption by nearly 40 billion gallons of refined gasoline and diesel fuel.
– Decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons.

“California’s pioneering efforts to reduce emissions from cars and trucks have become a national example, and have been supported by past Administrations both Republican and Democratic,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. “Our policies have helped deploy more efficient cars and new technologies, saving consumers billions of dollars in fuel costs and more in adverse health and environmental impacts. Today’s action will only hold back innovation to favor a couple of industries and will further choke the air out of our children’s lungs.”

“California rejects efforts to weaken mileage standards already agreed to by manufacturers,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “To ease those requirements not only threatens our environment, but it is a gift to corporations taken from the pockets of families who will have to pay more for dirtier air

The current rules are already locked in for the model years 2017 through 2022; Trump’s action reexamines the rules for 2022 through 2025

But between now and 2025 the average fuel mileage is supposed to increase from 36 miles per gallon to 54 mpg.