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Firstly, this comes as a surprise to all following the current administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a redetermination of the appropriateness of the EPA’s vehicle regulations through 2025. At the request of the automakers Pruitt wants to make them less stringent. In doing so, he is overturning thousands of pages of hard evidence. Worst part and most noteworthy the consequences will be limiting consumer choice. This will lead to increasing emissions. Finally and most upsetting undercutting the economy.
This decision is not based on evidence!
Last year, I pointed out the strong body of evidence supporting the previous administration’s determination that the standards are appropriate. The justification for this action for automakers is considerably slimmer. Rather they DENY the fact that these standards are cost-effective for consumers. Also, we have the technology to meet and exceed standards by 2025. Furthermore and most noteworthy, these standards have tremendous positive impacts on the economy. Rather than recognize this, they deny!! YES folks ideologues at the EPA ignore this evidence. Hence they further misconstrue how the standards work. AKa Lie!!
The administrator doesn’t want to understand. Understand that lower gas prices further improved the economy. Hence, actually underscore the importance of having strong efficiency standards. Since increasing sales of SUVs don’t affect the ability of automakers to meet the standards.
Therefore, Administrator Pruitt is just another example of how little this administration cares about facts for the automakers.
This decision is bad news for the environment
If the EPA completely rolls back the regulations, as some have signaled, that will mean an additional half billion tons of global warming emissions just from the vehicles sold between 2022-2025. Doing so would make achieving hitting our obligations under the Paris Climate Accord a virtual impossibility. THAT would significantly damage our ability to hold global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
Of course, burning more oil isn’t just bad for the environment. It’s bad for national security and terrible for the nation’s pocketbook.
These standards have been increasing the availability of more fuel-efficient vehicles in every single class of vehicle—that’s how they were designed. That means that whether a consumer is looking to buy a small car or a giant pick-up, they are going to save money the moment they drive off the lot thanks to fuel savings that more than compensate for any costs associated with fuel-saving technologies. This decision will now limit those savings and put manufacturers back in the driver’s seat, effectively determining what consumers are allowed to buy.
Unfortunately, the only way that we have gotten more efficient vehicles on the market for consumers is with strong efficiency standards.
At the turn of the millennium, manufacturers were selling gas guzzlers at a tremendous clip—but in doing so, they entirely neglected investment in their car fleet. As soon as gas prices began to rise again, sales of these largest vehicles fell, as Americans clamored for more efficient options. And when it came to the Detroit Three, those efficient choices simply weren’t there. Therefore, sales plummeted. THEN taxpayers had to bail out the industry. The actions automakers have taken to push the administration is so darn wrong. It will weaken these rules. WORST part is it’s setting us up for a repeat of history.
Moreover, by putting more of consumers’ hard-earned dollars into the tank to pay for gas instead of being able to reinject that into the economy. MORE importantly this action will cost jobs. An independent analysis released shows that the economy is slated to grow by more than $16 billion. Also, creating 265,000 jobs by 2035. MIND you if the standards are held today. NOW a large chunk of which are explicitly created in automotive manufacturing and its supply chain.
Suppliers themselves are well aware of the benefits these rules have provided and the negative consequences of a rollback—unlike automakers, they have also been willing to step out and support strong standards.
Under the Clean Air Act, California has the authority to set more stringent vehicle emissions standards, and states have the right to adopt these standards. Prior to the federal EPA standards, California and 13 other states adopted strong emissions standards for passenger vehicles through 2025 and hold a waiver from the EPA to maintain those standards. However, because those rules are so similar to the ones currently on the books, they had been willing to accept as compliance with those rules compliance with the federal program.
Therefore the action by Administrator Pruitt completely undermines the promise of a single national program by weakening the federal program. The states understand the technical and economic evidence that shows manufacturers can achieve strong standards in 2025. The State’s are the ones that face the consequences of global warming if they do not. They have therefore signaled that they will no longer follow the federal program. These states make up more than 1/3 of the new vehicle market. Thereby ensuring that folks in California and New York are going to have more efficient vehicle choices than those back in Detroit or Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma.
We’ve seen lip service given by automakers about not wanting a rollback of the standards, but this is nothing but puffery as they try to distance themselves from an unpopular administration that has given them exactly what they asked for. Too-late claims about needing to act on climate change ring hollow given the industry’s continued efforts to undermine the nation’s strongest climate policy at every turn—if automakers truly wanted to act on climate, they would support the rules as they stand, not beg the administration to change them.
Inevitably, what this means is that the Administration is angling for a court battle over its technically unjustifiable standards. Thereby creating uncertainty in the process. Of course, this is nothing new. This Pruitt administration has found itself at the center of a number of lawsuits. Firstly, for failing to adequately uphold the mission of the agency. You know, to protect public health and the environment.
The industry is now facing complete uncertainty. Exactly the situation that the previous administration sought to avoid by finalizing the rules in 2017. But by pushing for a new rule as they have, the automakers can only blame itself for this chaos. And unfortunately, it would be the rest of us that will have to bear the cost, not only by paying more at the pump but by dealing with the ensuing impacts on the climate from veering away from the sustainable pathway we need to be on in 2025 and beyond.
This means there is still time to right this wrong. The administration’s next step will be to propose what it would set as a replacement. One for the cost-effective standards now on the books. Hence, giving an opportunity for stakeholders and the public writ large to weigh in.
In conclusion, in responding to that proposal, the industry needs to stand up for science. THEY need to protect the environment. If not they’ll remain guilty. Guilty of using an ideological administration to ignore the facts. THIS will cost the public deeply. And you can bet the public will be watching. Finally and hopefully giving the agency and the industry a piece of its mind.
By: DAVE COOKE, SENIOR VEHICLES ANALYST | APRIL 2, 2018
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