Friday, October 01, 2010

EPA & DOT Pursue Tougher GHG & Fuel Economy Standards

Oct 1:The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. EPA, announced they will begin the process of developing tougher greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks built in model years 2017 through 2025. The agencies said this will build on the success of the first phase of the national program covering cars from model years 2012-2016.

    The program is a key part of the Administration's energy and climate security goals, which call for the increased domestic production and use of existing, advanced, and emerging technologies to strengthen the auto industry and enhance job creation in the United States. The agencies said that continuing the national program will help make it possible for manufacturers to build a single national fleet of cars and light trucks that satisfies all Federal and California standards, while ensuring that consumers have a full range of vehicle choices. 

    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "Continuing the successful clean cars program will accelerate the environmental benefits, health protections and clean technology advances over the long-term. In addition to protecting our air and cutting fuel consumption, a clear path forward will give American automakers the certainty they need to make the right investments and promote innovations. We will continue to work with automakers, environmentalists and other stakeholders to encourage standards that reduce our addiction to foreign oil, save money for American drivers, and clean up the air we breathe."

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "We must, and we will, keep the momentum going to make sure that all motor vehicles sold in America are realizing the best fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions possible. Continuing the national program would help create a more secure energy future by reducing the nation's dependence on oil, which has been a national objective since the first oil price shocks in the 1970s."

    In a May 21, 2010 memorandum, President Obama directed EPA and DOT issue a Notice of Intent (NOI) that would lay out a coordinated plan, to propose regulations to extend the national program and to coordinate with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in developing a technical assessment to inform the NOI and subsequent rulemaking process. Consistent with the Presidential memorandum, the NOI includes an initial assessment for a potential national program for the 2025 model year and outlines next steps for additional work the agencies will undertake. Next steps include issuing a supplemental NOI that would include an updated analysis of possible future standards by November 30, 2010. As part of that process, the agencies will conduct additional study and meet with stakeholders to better determine what level of standards might be appropriate. The agencies aim to propose actual standards within a year.

    The national program is intended to save consumers money by cutting down on fuel costs, improve our nation's energy security by reducing dependence on petroleum, and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas pollution that leads to climate change. Cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are responsible for 57 percent of U.S. transportation petroleum use and almost 60 percent of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

    The results of the interim technical assessment are summarized in the NOI and presented in a separate document, which NHTSA, EPA and CARB are also jointly releasing today (October 1, 2010). To achieve further annual greenhouse gas reductions, the automotive industry could choose from a variety of advanced technologies. The assessment also considers the costs and effectiveness of applicable technologies, compliance flexibilities available to manufacturers, potential impacts on auto industry jobs, and the infrastructure needed to support advanced technology vehicles. This assessment was developed through extensive dialogue with automobile manufacturers and suppliers, non-governmental organizations, state and local governments, and labor unions.
    The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance) released a statement saying, "The Alliance remains convinced that a single national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the best approach for the environment, our customers, and our economy. As the agencies acknowledge, the assumptions in the Notice of Intent -- and the potential ranges of improvements that they imply -- are based on very preliminary and incomplete data at this point, and inevitably will change as more information is brought to the process. In the coming weeks, we will carefully review the technical assessment's assumptions regarding factors that will impact vehicle fuel economy increases over this time period. These include vehicle technologies and technology costs, the cost of gasoline, development of low-carbon fuels, and development of infrastructure to charge plug-in hybrids and battery electrics.

    EPA and DOT should now engage a broad range of independent experts to undertake a thorough analysis and balance the technological opportunities to improve vehicle and fleet fuel economy with the economic challenges they present -- for automakers and American consumers. The Alliance is committed to working collaboratively with EPA, NHTSA and California to achieve these goals in a way that allows consumers to choose and afford vehicles that fit their needs.

    The Alliance is a trade association of twelve car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

    The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM), representing 15 international motor vehicle manufacturers who account for over 40 percent of all passenger cars and light trucks sold annually in the U.S. issued a statement saying, "As leaders in the development of fuel-efficient technologies, AIAM member companies are pioneering technologies to advance the goal of increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to continue working with the administration and other stakeholders in establishing future performance-based targets through the regulatory process and to address the challenging issues this rulemaking presents.

    "The Technology Assessment Report modeled a range of possible future standards. It is important to understand the implications of these options in striking a balanced approach to meeting our national environmental objectives, recognizing the cost impact to consumers, providing manufacturers the needed lead-time to design and build advanced technology vehicles, and assuring customers have vehicles that fully meet their needs."

Access a release from EPA & DOT (click here). Access more information on the NOI, the technical assessment, and submitting comments (click here); and (click here). Access the statement from the Alliance (click here). Access the statement from AIAM (click here).