EPA Orders Revised CAFE Targets, May Revoke California’s Waiver
by Eric Kulisch (Auto News) Move applauded by auto industry, denounced by other businesses — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday announced that aggressive light-vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions limits set under the Obama administration for model years 2022-25 are “not appropriate,” triggering a controversial new rulemaking process to adjust the standards and a possible showdown with California.
The EPA and NHTSA, the nation’s auto safety regulator, will work to produce a joint proposal in the coming months that either lowers the emission targets, extends the deadlines, or offers companies more flexibility to gain and apply credits for past performance toward future goals.
“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, who has undertaken to unwind dozens of health and environmental rules promulgated by the previous administration.
Automakers welcomed Monday’s decision and said it’s premature to assume the mileage rules will be rolled back in any meaningful way.
Industry officials have called for modest changes to the targets or the way compliance is measured. A significant rollback of the standards would undermine the harmonized fuel economy program with California and 13 allied states that automakers say they want to preserve so new light vehicles don’t have to be built to different standards.
The latest targets, which the auto industry helped set seven years ago, call for light duty vehicles to average 51.4 mpg, or about 36 mpg under real-world conditions. Industry officials say the weighted sales mix towards light duty trucks in the past 18 months, now puts the official target below 50 mpg.
Public interest groups, many states and localities and Democratic members of Congress are lined up in opposition to fuel economy changes, saying the decision undercuts progress on reducing harmful smog and greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
Environmental groups and other proponents of the Obama administration’s fuel-economy program had looked to Ford in particular to defend the current standards, given Executive Chairman Bill Ford’s support for the original program and his years advocacy on environmental issues.
California officials have threatened a legal battle if the Trump administration tries to make significant changes to the fuel efficiency plan without their consent. The state has authority under the Clean Air Act to set more stringent vehicle standards and agreed eight years ago to harmonize its standards with federal ones. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted the California standards.
The prospect of implementation delays from lawsuits could create operational uncertainty for automakers and suppliers. READ MORE
EPA Administrator Pruitt: GHG Emissions Standards for Cars and Light Trucks Should Be Revised (Environmental Protection Agency)
The EPA rejects Obama-era ‘54.4 mpg by 2025’ automotive mandate (Digital Trends)
EPA backs away from Obama-era fuel efficiency standards (New York Post/Reuters)
EPA’s Scott Pruitt kills Obama’s 54 mpg auto rules, huge fight coming (Washington Examiner)
EPA Moves To Weaken Landmark Fuel Efficiency Rules (National Public Radio)
EPA to ease back emissions standards (Washington Post/Associated Press)
EPA to roll back car emissions standards, handing automakers a big win (Washington Post)
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE: (Politico’s Morning Energy)
Trump to roll back fuel standards for cars, light trucks (Detroit Free Press)
Growth Energy Comments on Recent EPA Actions (Energy.AgWired.com AUDIO)
How U.S. Fuel Economy Standards Compare With the Rest of the World’s (New York Times)
Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: Soon after first entering the White House, President Donald Trump ordered EPA to reopen its review of fuel efficiency requirements at the urging of automakers. And now embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is making good on that request, announcing his decision Monday to revise the Obama-era standards – but Pruitt’s steady trickle of scandals is a lingering concern for the White House, POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson, Alex Guillén and Andrew Restuccia report.
Chief of staff John Kelly once considered the firing of Pruitt in the coming months as part of a wave of ousters that took down other agency heads, a senior administration official told POLITICO. Instead, the official said, Kelly decided to wait for the release of a forthcoming EPA inspector general’s report on Pruitt’s travels, which senior aides expect would be damning.
Still, multiple people close to the president argue that Pruitt is one of Trump’s most effective Cabinet members in making policy, despite headlines about his pricey travel expenses or his $50-a-night lodging. And the work on car and truck rules is a case in point. Pruitt criticized the Obama administration as he took aim at its legacy, and EPA’s announcement of the planned revision will likely lead to cheers in states like Michigan and Ohio while enraging liberals in California, one of Trump’s favorite targets.
Pruitt stopped short of announcing plans Monday to revoke the state’s waiver to enforce more stringent auto emissions standards, but indicated he will pressure the state to fall in line behind federal rules. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state was ready to sue EPA if it revoked the waiver.
Hot Doc: Read EPA’s 38-page determination here.
ABOUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT: EPA apparently called off plans for a big public rollout at a Northern Virginia car dealership today. “My understanding is that the administrator wanted a dealership as the backdrop, and that’s changed. I don’t know where the announcement will be made or when they’re going to, in fact, make it. It is what it is,” Geoffrey Pohanka, president of Pohanka Automotive Group, told ME Monday night. E&E had reported earlier that morning that Pruitt had planned to announce the car rule revisions at Pohanka Chevrolet in Chantilly, Va., though EPA never commented on whether such plans were in place, and environmentalists had planned protests at the dealership. Pohanka said he was not disappointed at the change in plans. “I don’t care where it’s made or when it’s made, but I think this is the right decision for the economy, for the environment and for the consumer,” he said.
A spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association told ME that Pruitt will meet privately this morning with automakers, dealers and representatives of industry trade groups to talk about his decision. But it’s not clear who is attending the closed-door meeting. The NADA spokesman declined to share any further details, and EPA did not return multiple requests from POLITICO to attend on Monday. READ MORE
Excerpt from Jalopnik: A Chevrolet dealership in Chantilly, Virginia has reportedly cancelled a planned event hosting EPA Chief Scott Pruitt tomorrow in a claimed effort to avoid the Chevy brand being associated with an expected announcement about the government rolling back Obama-era emissions standards and California’s right to set its own pollution rules, according to the New York Times.
Pruitt was expected to make a public announcement about the EPA’s new plans at the Pohanka Chevrolet dealership on Tuesday, supposedly at an event that has now been cancelled.
Here’s more from the New York Times:
Mr. Pruitt had been expected to announce the effort on Tuesday at a Chevrolet dealership in suburban Virginia. But those plans were complicated by an angry pushback from some Chevy dealers who were reluctant to see the brand associated with the announcement, according to two Chevy dealers who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing their relationship with General Motors.
Late on Monday, the Virginia dealership, Pohanka Chevrolet in Chantilly, said the EPA event had planned to host had been cancelled. READ MORE