California Says a Car-Emissions Deal With Trump Could Be Doable
by Mark Chediak, Ryan Beene, and John Lippert (Bloomberg) ‘Reason could prevail,’ chair of Air Resources Board says; State is considering a lawsuit to preserve its options — California’s top air-quality regulator sees hope for a deal with the Trump administration over fuel economy and emissions standards — so long as Washington doesn’t try to steamroll the state.
Federal agencies have yet to translate their disdain for regulations into concrete proposals to roll back Obama-era rules intended to curb tailpipe emissions, meaning there’s still a chance for a consensus to emerge, according to Mary Nichols, the chair of the California Air Resources Board.
“Reason could prevail,” Nichols said Tuesday at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in New York. “There’s a way to get to success, unless your goal is to roll over California and not allow us to have any standards.”
Nichols said she’s open to adjusting California’s regulations to make them easier for automakers to manage in a way that doesn’t abandon the state’s overall emissions-reduction goals. Rules agreed to by carmakers, California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2011 aim to boost fuel economy to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, or roughly 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving.
Future changes could include granting automakers additional pollution credits for putting fleets of electric vehicles on the road that encourage car sharing, or not holding automakers responsible for the emissions of power plants that provide electricity for plug-in cars, Nichols said.
An aggressive move by Trump’s administration to gut federal standards could lead to a messy legal battle, a patchwork of efficiency standards, or both. The friction has broader implications for carmakers because California’s rules are followed by 12 other states that collectively account for about a third of U.S. auto sales. READ MORE
EPA’s war with California proves America needs a carbon tax (The Guardian)
Don’t Overlook Ethanol In Clean Car Future (Farm Journal’s Ag Professional; includes AUDIO)
Excerpt from The Guardian: Other than Russia, no developed country has gasoline prices nearly as cheap as America’s. Australia’s are closest at 35% more expensive than American gasoline. Canada’s are 46% more expensive, and European petrol is about twice the American price.
It’s also important to note that American fuel prices are artificially low because they don’t reflect the associated costs of climate change damages. This is known as the ‘social cost of carbon’ – the costs taxpayers incur to pay for the added damages from climate-intensified hurricanes, floods, droughts, heatwaves, and so on. Economists call these costs ‘externalities’ because they’re not reflected in the market price of fossil fuels. Putting a price on this sort of pollution is ‘Econ 101’, and 95% of economists support either a carbon pollution price or standards like these fuel efficiency rules.
The solution could not be clearer, but it’s not a solution most Americans want to hear – gasoline prices should be higher.
A carbon tax would be a win-win solution
Automakers admit that consumer demand for gas guzzlers is the problem. Conservatives claim to be worried about the ballooning national debt (despite having passed a trillion-dollar tax cut). Environmentalists and scientists want to cut carbon pollution. Donald Trump claims to be worried about America’s crumbling infrastructure. The stricter standards would save $1.7 trillion on fuel by 2025; buying inefficient cars would cost Americans money.
Implementing a carbon pollution tax could solve all of these problems.
- It would raise fuel prices, thus increasing consumer demand for fuel efficient cars, allowing the automakers to easily meet the more stringent standards.
- Having fuel-efficient fleets would also protect US automakers the next time gasoline prices spike and demand for economic cars rises, as it did in 2008.
- By reducing fuel consumption, a carbon tax would reduce American carbon pollution, thus helping tackle climate change.
- It would generate tremendous revenue that could be used in a variety of ways like reducing the deficit, cutting other taxes, or funding infrastructure projects.
- Or, to blunt the financial impact of higher fuel prices on Americans’ finances, the revenue could be partially or entirely returned to taxpayers, which would spur economic growth.
In public statements, auto and oil companies support a carbon tax. General Motors, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, and BP are even founding members of the Climate Leadership Council – a group led by Republican Party elder statesmen but also supported by Stephen Hawking, Steven Chu, and The Nature Conservancy, whose goal is to implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax. However, when similar legislation is actually introduced in Congress, the auto and oil industries refuse to throw their support behind it, and Republican lawmakers inevitably kill it. READ MORE