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Home / US / E.P.A. Prepares to roll back rules that require cars to be cleaner and more efficient

E.P.A. Prepares to roll back rules that require cars to be cleaner and more efficient



The Trump government is expected to make efforts in the coming days to weaken automobiles' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption standards, give automakers a victory, and give them the ability to roll back global industry standards.

The move to undermine one of President Barack Obama's efforts to combat climate change would also persuade the Trump government to hold a lawsuit with California that adheres to the stricter rules, even as Washington restricts federal standards. The outcome of this struggle could be to create a set of rules for cars sold in California and the 1

2 states that follow its lead, and weaker rules for the rest of the states, dividing the nation into two markets.

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is expected to to define the initiative as eliminating a regulatory burden on automakers that will lead to more affordable trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles Buyer, after people who are familiar with the plan.

An EPA spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Pruitt had sent the draft of the 16-page Plan of Instruction to the White House.

The details of the plan are still being worked out. These details, which are expected this year, could, in the opinion of two persons familiar with the deliberations, significantly reduce the standards of the Obama era.

"That's certainly a big deal," said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economy Program. "The result will be more gas-guzzling vehicles on the road, greater overall gasoline consumption and a significant increase in carbon emissions."

According to two people familiar with the plans of the EPA, Mr. Pruitt should officially announce his proposal to a car dealer in the suburbs of Virginia on Tuesday, but the timetable remained in motion.

Big automakers would welcome the change. They are ready to engage in new rules that "meet our customers' needs for affordable, safe, clean and fuel-efficient transportation," said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing many of the world's largest automakers.

In California prosecutors said they were expecting a fight. The state has a special permit under the Clean Air Act of 1970 that enables it to enforce stricter air pollution standards than the federal government, a remnant of California history, to set its own air pollution regulations before the federal laws came into force. "We are ready to do whatever we can to defend the trial," California State Prosecutor Xavier Becerra said in an interview.

The California renunciation gives the state considerable power to require from automakers to stricter standards. Not only California is a huge auto market itself, also 12 other states including New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have historically followed its lead. Together they represent more than a third of the domestic automotive market.

"We will primarily defend the existing federal greenhouse gas standards," Becerra said. "We defend them because they are good for the entire nation, and no one should think that it is easy to undo something that is not only good for the country, but good for the planet as well."

Mr. Pruitt has signaled that he is ready to accept such a challenge . "California is not the arbiter of these issues," he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV this month.

Under the Obama administration, the federal government tightened tailpipe pollution standards to California. Mr. Pruitt said that the state standards "should not dictate to the rest of the country and what these levels will be."

EPA's senior air handling consultant, William Wehrum, traveled to California this week and met with the state's top clean air official, Mary Nichols. Both sides refused to discuss what was being discussed.

On Wednesday, a coalition of free-market groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, urged Pruitt, California. "It's time for E.P.A. to act," the groups said. If the agency did not act swiftly, the groups said, "People throughout the state of California are faced with unrealistic and costly mandates that threaten their fundamental right to vote."

President Trump has also talked about reversing the efficiency rules known as the "Corporate Average Fuel Economy" or "Cafe." "I'm sure you've heard all the big news, that we'll be working on the Cafe Standards so you can build cars back in America," Mr. Trump said in a Detroit car research facility last March. "We want to be the car capital of the world again, we will be, and it will not be long."

The rules aimed at reducing the tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, which make a significant contribution to global warming , were one of the two pillars of climate change from Obama. In 2012, they would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel consumption of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

If fully implemented, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels According to the EPA, carbon dioxide pollution during the lifetime of all vehicles affected by the regulation was reduced by about six billion tonnes.

The rules would have put the United States, which in the past was a laggard in terms of fuel consumption regulations, at the forefront of producing high-fuel-consumption electric vehicles worldwide. The United States and Canada are the only major nations that have adopted mandatory emission standards by 2025. The European Union has recently proposed standards for 2025 and 2030, while China has only begun to work on standards for those years.

Less restrictive regulations in the United States could give automakers the ability to seek milder standards elsewhere, leading to increased car pollution around the world. While sales of electric vehicles start to start, they still represent just under 1 percent of worldwide auto sales. A shift from car buyers to larger cars and trucks is already hindering progress in fuel economy.

"The concern is that automakers will be going around the world, basically trying to influence regulators, saying, look, because the United States has slowed the pace should be everywhere else," said Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a think-tank focused on clean technology and politics. Global automakers "apply developments in one region to influence changes in other regions."

The American automakers initially accepted the plan adopted by Obama in 2009 to harmonize the then-mismatch of pollution and efficiency standards EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California. And the automakers were unable to resist; they just had a $ 45 billion bailout to survive a global economic crisis .

The plan would have led automakers to accelerate their development of extremely fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and electric cars ]. But within weeks of Mr. Trump's inauguration last year, the bosses of the country's Big Three car companies met with him in the Oval Office to say that the Obama tailpipe standard was too hard to reach.

Mr. Trump led the E.P.A. under Mr. Pruitt, to create a new, less stringent set of standards. The announcement expected on Tuesday would be the first legal step in this process.

While Mr. Pruitt's proposal to open the Obama Rules for review will not include any specific objectives, "the proposed rollback will be a fairly significant number," said Myron Ebell, Mr. Trumps E.P.A. Transition team and directs energy and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington research organization that challenges the established science of man-made climate change. "It will be more than a couple," he said.

When the dispute between California and the Trump administration escalates, one possibility is that the federal government might try to revoke the waiver so California can set its own rules. Some presidents, including George W. Bush, have considered reversing the disclaimer, but no one has tried .

Mr. Pruitt's announcement should not contain a decision contesting the waiver.

Mr. Ebell suggested that one possible legal tactic for the Trump administration could be to announce that it will refuse to renew the current exhaust emissions waiver, which expires in 2025, rather than withdrawing it directly. That would probably delay a court battle until California moves to set standards beyond 2025.

But such a move would likely at least initially formalize two different sets of rules in the United States – federal and California emission regulations stricter – a logistical headache for the industry.

While California and its allies followed long separate smog standards, they were easier for automakers to meet because a car can be matched, for example, by adding a catalytic converter. The design for separate mileage standards is more difficult as fuel consumption depends on the weight and design of the car.

A split market could require significantly more car design, experts say putting the American auto industry on unknown territory. It remains unclear how the problem could be solved. One possibility is to create two very different car markets, one with cleaner cars generally along the coasts, and another with more polluting cars concentrated in Central America. On the other hand, automakers may also choose to generally comply with the more stringent California standards across the country, mitigating the impact of Trump administration rollback on federal rules.

The automakers had hoped to avoid this complex scenario. 19459005 s by using their clout with the Trump administration to force California to go with a relaxation of federal regulations. But "if they thought this would end up killing California and breaking its stricter standards," said Kevin Poloncarz, a San Francisco lawyer focused on air and climate protection law, "that was a miscalculation." Automakers' victory could lead to unexpected headaches for them, said Jody Freeman, Harvard law professor and former Obama adviser. Government.

For example, with the rest of the world moving towards stricter rules, the American market may prove to be a laggard in the industry, taking the lead in clean vehicle technology to markets such as China or the European Union. "I do not really know if the auto industry wants what this government does," she said. " It could be like the dog who got the car."


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