U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt says the Obama Administration's clean car standards for model years 2022-2025 are "not appropriate and should be revised." On Monday Pruitt announced his intention to roll them back.


General Motors will increase production of the all-electric Chevy Bolt in a step toward an all-electric future,
said CEO Mary Barra in March. (Photo courtesy General Motors)


Pruitt's determination comes after completion of the Midterm Evaluation process for the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025.


“The Obama Administration's determination was wrong,” said Pruitt. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”


Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. Through a Clean Air Act waiver granted by EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements.


The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA said Pruitt.


“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country," said Pruitt. "EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford, while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars."


"It is in America's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard,” he said.


California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols called the EPA's decision "a politically motivated effort to weaken clean vehicle standards with no documentation, evidence or law to back up that decision."


"This is not a technical assessment, it is a move to demolish the nation’s clean car program," Nichols said. "EPA’s action, if implemented, will worsen people’s health with degraded air quality and undermine regulatory certainty for automakers."


"This decision takes the U.S. auto industry backward, and we will vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards and fight to preserve one national clean vehicle program," she said.


Nichols said, "Today’s decision changes nothing in California and the 12 other states with clean car rules that reduce emissions and improve gas mileage - those rules remain in place."


"California will not weaken its nationally accepted clean car standards," declared Nichols, "and automakers will continue to meet those higher standards, bringing better gas mileage and less pollution for everyone."


Pruitt also announced the start of a joint process with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a notice and comment rulemaking to set more appropriate greenhouse gas emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.


"This was the right decision," the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement Monday from its headquarters in Washington, DC.


"Today’s announcement was the expected necessary step that sets in motion a future rulemaking where the government will propose a range of alternatives - sharing the data gathered to support various options - and seek public comments," said the Alliance, which represents 12 automakers that sell their vehicles in the United States.


The automakers say they all are committed to increasing fuel economy requirements and the key to achieving higher standards is selling more of the highly fuel-efficient vehicles, including 50 models of electric cars, now in dealer showrooms.



By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)