EPA, DOT open public comment period on reconsideration of GHG Standards for Cars and Light Trucks

EPA, DOT open public comment period on reconsideration of GHG Standards for Cars and Light Trucks

10 August 2017

In a joint Federal Register notice, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) opened the public comment period on the reconsideration of the January 2017 Final Determination for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years (MY) 2022-2025. (Earlier post.) Separately, EPA is also taking comment on whether the MY 2021 standards are appropriate. The Agency is inviting the public to submit relevant data and information that can inform a final determination of the standards.

In March 2017, EPA and the US Department of Transportation announced the Trump Administration’s decision to revisit the Midterm Evaluation Process, which was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025. This requires EPA to determine, no later than 1 April 2018, whether the 2022-2025 standards determined by the previous administration are appropriate.  If the Agency believes that the final determination issued by the past administration is not realistic, it would submit a new proposal for public comment.

The comment period will be open for 45 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register. EPA will also hold a public hearing for this notice, with the date and location of the public hearing to be announced in a supplemental Federal Register document.

In its 26 July 262017 “Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Model Year 2022–2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that as part of its upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rulemaking, it may evaluate the model year 2021 standards it finalized in 2012 to ensure they remain “maximum feasible” (See 82 FR 34742).

In the interest of harmonization between the GHG and CAFE programs, EPA is also requesting comment on whether the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards established for model year 2021 are appropriate.

As part of the rulemaking establishing GHG standards for MYs 2017-2025, EPA included a Mid-term Evaluation for the MY 2022-2025 standards. EPA regulations require EPA to determine whether or not the existing standards for model years remain appropriate under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. The Final Determination is the last step in a Midterm Evaluation process and must be completed by 1 April 2018.

Among the early reactions to the announcement:

By reopening the midterm evaluation, EPA is bringing back questions that have already been asked and answered. In fact, EPA concluded a thorough assessment earlier this year that found the targets through 2025 could be met at an even lower cost than EPA had previously estimated. And by expanding the review to include Model Year 2021, EPA is opening the door even further to eroding standards beyond what was previously contemplated. If EPA goes through with its review, they should leave 2021 off the table and they must conduct a fair, transparent assessment that includes the voices of consumers. If progress toward more efficient vehicles is put in reverse, consumers are the ones who will bear the financial burden.

—Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union

Redoing the midterm review of national fuel economy standards is an egregious act of government waste that could result in the rollback of essential consumer protections. If automakers are allowed to slack off on making cars run more efficiently, Americans will be forced to spend thousands of dollars more on gas, instead of on their families.

—Jack Gillis, Consumer Federation of America’s (CFA) Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book

In order to keep our air clean and our climate safe, we must protect and strengthen clean car standards. The EPA’s previous technical review of the current fuel economy standards shows that the standards are not only well within reach, but are already working. Due to technological innovation initiated by the standards, the cars speeding off dealership lots at a record pace are cleaner and more efficient than ever before. A new administration is no reason to shift progress to reverse.

—Sierra Club Legislative Director for Transportation Andrew Linhardt

With this announcement, the Administration is fulfilling its commitment to reinstate the midterm evaluation of future vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. This review is important to consumers nationwide who want government to rely on the facts to drive improvements in fuel economy. We’re delighted to see the two federal agencies align and coordinate their programs, and we thank Secretary Chao and Administrator Pruitt for working closely together to harmonize a review driven by the most current data, consumer preferences and marketplace realities. We look forward to joining in with other stakeholders, including California, to ensure this program remains a success.

—Mitch Bainwol, President & CEO, Auto Alliance

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