Quantcast
Popular
iStock

Will the EPA Weaken Landmark Clean Car Standards?

By Luke Tonachel

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is reconsidering landmark clean car standards that were poised to provide deep reductions in carbon pollution and save consumers $92 billion at the pump. The agency determined in January that the standards for model years 2022 to 2025—originally set in 2012—are achievable and should remain in place. Now, at the urging of automakers, the EPA is shifting into reverse.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) strongly opposes reopening and weakening the clean car standards, a point we made clear in recent testimony to the EPA. The automakers can meet the current standards with known technologies at reasonable cost. They have no excuses. Rolling them back, however, would increase pollution, raise costs for drivers, slow innovation and put jobs at risk.


NRDC is filing detailed comments to the EPA on why the agency should not reconsider the clean car standards, and you can add your voice here. The following are some of the key points we make:

The Final Determination issued January 2017 is based on sound science and a comprehensive technical evaluation process. A collaborative assessment by the EPA, the Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board draws on roughly eight years of careful technology and cost assessment and found that the 2022-2025 standards were not only achievable at reasonable cost, but could be stronger. That assessment relied upon the state-of-the-art techniques the EPA uses—considered best practices by the National Academies of Science—to literally tear apart vehicles and technology components to determine current and future costs of applying them to reduce emissions. Based on the robust technical record, there's no reason to change the standards.

Keeping strong 2022-2025 standards is critical to preventing the worst effects of climate change. The transportation sector is now responsible for more heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions than power plants and automobiles contribute about 60 percent of transportation emissions. Making internal combustion engine vehicles cleaner and more efficient is key strategy to a low-carbon transportation system. The EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions as part of its duties under the Clean Air Act to protect human health and welfare. Strong standards are an effective tool for reducing pollution. They are the reason why carbon pollution from vehicles has dropped more than 22 percent in the last decade. Simply put, the standards are working and should be kept strong for the future.

Strong 2022-2025 standards are good for jobs. The standards—when maintained—provide certainty for the investment that drives innovation. That innovation makes domestic automakers and their vast network of suppliers competitive in a global market that continues to demand cleaner vehicles. Europe and China are working now to tighten their vehicle standards. A report by NRDC and the BlueGreen Alliance of environmental and labor groups identified nearly 300,000 manufacturing workers in 1,200 facilities across 43 states who are building the technologies that make vehicles cleaner and more fuel efficient. American workers would lose out under weaker standards that stifle domestic innovation and encourage suppliers to take their jobs to the overseas markets that need them.

EPA—prompted by DOT—is also considering weakening the 2021 standards. This is a non-starter. Changing the model year 2021 standards was not even part of the process for evaluating the standards that the EPA, DOT, CARB and the car companies agreed to when the standards were adopted in 2012. Weaker 2021 standards would increase pollution and slow innovation. Companies that supply vehicle components to the automakers are already planning for 2021 products. Changing the 2021 standards now would create chaos in business planning.

Americans want cleaner, more efficient cars. More than two-thirds of residents in the auto-manufacturing strongholds of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee support strong federal vehicle standards. Among the popular reasons for supporting the standards are protecting the air and planet for future generations and advancing innovation.

There is a lot at stake. EPA's analysis shows that under current standards, cleaner automobiles sold in model years 2022-2025 would cut carbon pollution by 540 million tons, reduce oil consumption by 1.2 billion and result in nearly $100 billion in net benefits to society. Reversing direction is unjustified and unwarranted. Re-opening the standards would only cause more pollution and economic harm. EPA has an obligation to safeguard our health, which means protecting the environment that serves and nurtures us. EPA should do its job by maintaining strong clean car standards.

Luke Tonachel is the director of the Clean Vehicles And Fuels Project, Energy & Transportation Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Shutterstock

Stinkhorns, Truffles, Smuts: The Amazing Diversity—and Possible Decline—of Mushrooms and Other Fungi

By Alexander Weir

"Whatever dressing one gives to mushrooms ... they are not really good but to be sent back to the dungheap where they are born."

French philosopher Denis Diderot thus dismissed mushrooms in 1751 in his " Encyclopedie." Today his words would be dismissed in France, where cooks tuck mushrooms into crepes, puff pastry and boeuf Bourguignon (beef Burgundy), to name just a few dishes.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Shutterstock

Soy Meat Is Soy Yesterday: 5 New and Better Options

By Katie O'Reilly

Vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians are no longer satisfied with the soy-reliant faux meat of yesterday. Soybeans are almost always genetically modified, and they also contain phytoestrogens, which may increase the risk of some cancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pexels

Cell Phone Radiation Risks: California Issues Groundbreaking Guidelines

By Olga Naidenko

This week, California officially issued groundbreaking guidelines advising cell phone users to keep phones away from their bodies and limit use when reception is weak. State officials caution that studies link radiation from long-term cell phone use to an increased risk of brain cancer, lower sperm counts and other health problems, and note that children's developing brains could be at greater risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Christy Williams / WWF

Celebrating the Biggest Conservation Wins of 2017

It's been a big year for conservation.

Together we assured the world that the U.S. is still an ally in the fight against climate change through the We Are Still In movement, a coalition of more than 2,500 American leaders outside of the federal government who are still committed to meeting climate goals. WWF's activists met with legislators to voice their support for international conservation funding. And we ensured that Bhutan's vast and wildlife-rich areas remain protected forever through long-term funding.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate

3 Extreme Weather Events in 2016 'Could Not Have Happened' Without Climate Change, Scientists Say

Three of 2016's extreme weather events would have been impossible without human-caused climate change, according to new research.

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a collection of papers Wednesday focused on examining the effect of climate change on 27 extreme weather events last year. The research found that climate change was a "significant driver" in 21 of these weather disasters, and that three events—the temperatures making 2016 the hottest year on record, the heat wave over Asia in the spring, and a "blob" of extremely warm water in the Pacific—"could not have happened" without climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Alan Schmierer

These Butterflies Have Lawyers

By John R. Platt

Don't mess with Texas butterflies. They have lawyers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
The price of offshore wind energy has dropped significantly in recent years. Wikimedia Commons

Netherlands Launches Landmark Zero-Subsidy Wind Power Auction

The Netherlands has launched the world's first “zero subsidy" tender on Friday to build 700 megawatts of offshore wind. Shortly after the announcement, the country already found its first bidder.

Zero subsidy tenders have been labeled as a “game-changer" for the sector because it means that potential bidders would rely solely on wholesale electricity prices without financial aid from the government.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
India is betting on a "green future" through clean energy and low carbon innovation. UK Department for International Development / Flickr

World's Largest Solar-Wind-Storage Plant Planned for India

A wind, solar and battery storage plant is being planned for the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has faced power woes in recent months due to grid failure.

The renewable energy facility will consist of 120 megawatts of solar, 40 megawatts of wind, 20-40 megawatt-hours of battery backup and will be spread over 1,000 acres in the district of Anantapur.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!