By on April 27, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

A slew of automakers are scheduled for a Thursday meeting with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation to go over existing Obama-era efficiency rules. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will both be on hand to discuss — and likely reassure — manufacturers on the future of the guidelines.

In March, President Donald Trump ordered an extensive review of U.S. light vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for the 2022-2025 time frame, despite the Obama administration locking them in well ahead of the midterm review’s April 2018 deadline. The decision was rushed to maintain the administration’s climate change policy and avoid any tampering from incoming Trump appointees. While there remains much to be done before the standing emission limits can be rolled back, wheels are now in motion.  (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Out of Patience Fuel Gauge Mug

Not to go all political on you, but it’s amazing how President Obama acted more like a bitter foreclosure victim — one who goes nuts and destroys as much of the house as they can, just short of being arrested for vandalism — during his last days in office, and not a graceful man given two terms as the leader of the free world.

Mr. Obama did this in two ways: one action affected a short list of government folk, and the other impacted one of the most important industries in our lives — the auto industry.

The short-listed government victims are those affected by Obama’s order to share dirt on people talking with “foreigners.” It’s against the law — but when did that stop the former President? What’s worse, and perhaps deadly, is Mr. Obama’s decision to renege on his promise to check and perhaps re-adjust the daunting future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard his administration first put in place in 2009, which the administration made even wackier in 2011.

(Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

white house on moving day
The Trump administration’s current plan for the Environmental Protection Agency budget removes nearly all funding for vehicle emissions testing. Proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget would eliminate 99 percent of the agency’s $48 million in funding for vehicle testing, shouldering automakers with increased fees to split the difference.

However, former head of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality Margo Oge is claiming that such a large cut would force the agency into “pretty much shutting down the testing lab” regardless of corporate contributions.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

pumping fuel

California has green-lit light-vehicle pollution targets that the Trump administration has placed under review. As expected, the Golden State is going to continue playing hardball over Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Already critical of the automotive industry for asking the president to reconsider federal guidelines through 2025, the California Air Resources Board hinted that it wouldn’t stray from the emission targets set by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, CARB finalized its state emissions rules while setting an updated ordinance on zero-emission vehicles. “We’re going to press on,” said Mary Nichols, head of the board, during last week’s press conference.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

pumping fuel

An economic assessment conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, due to recent improvements in technology, the Environmental Protection Agency’s rationale for its 2025 fuel efficiency standards may have overestimated the cost for automakers to comply. The ICCT’s study shows average per-car investments 34 to 40 percent lower than the previous EPA appraisal.

While this information, had it come out sooner, may not have kept automotive executives from bending the president’s ear to reevaluate EPA guidelines, it certainly reframes their reasons for doing so. The ICCT, famous for turning researchers loose on Volkswagen diesels, makes a good case that manufacturers have the tools to meet current standards without spending a lot of money.  (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

Donald Trump

Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will reopen a review of the current auto emissions directives passed in the final throes of the Obama presidency. This is cause for celebration for automakers, who’ve practically begged the president to repeal the mandates on grounds that the goals are far too uncompromising and ill-suited for the present-day market.

Speaking at the American Center for Mobility, President Trump promised to bring more manufacturing back into the United States and continue to bring down regulatory barriers so that automakers can continue to thrive.

“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.”

Clearly, the president has either never seen an Aston Martin or is trying to make a point about the importance of domestic product.  (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

Donald Trump

President Trump is prepared to make a formal announcement on the review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards that were locked in at the tail end of the Obama administration. Sources have confirmed that he’ll be meeting with automotive CEOs in Michigan this week to discuss the the situation after listening to them repeatedly beg him to repeal the current guidelines.

The president plans to visit an autonomous vehicle testing facility outside of Detroit on Wednesday before meeting with the automotive heads representing the Detroit Three. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday that the trip is centered around “job creation and automobile manufacturing … highlighting the need to eliminate burdensome regulations that needlessly hinder meaningful job growth.” (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Office of the Inspector General is preparing to conduct preliminary research to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal controls are effective at detecting and preventing emissions fraud.

While the EPA has proven itself capable of stopping cheaters in the past, the federal oversight group wants to check in on the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Office of Transportation and Air Quality in Washington D.C.

This investigation comes amid the current administration’s proposal of a 25 percent reduction in the EPA’s $8 billion budget, the elimination of almost 3,000 jobs, and the suspension of agency-backed programs and departments — including the environmental justice office. Automakers are also begging President Trump to rollback emissions standards after 2016 ended up being the first year since 2004 that U.S. light vehicles did not exceeded the industry-wide fuel economy targets. Regardless of intent, any appraisal of the EPA’s ability to act effectively will either serve to validate its existence or help rationalize its dismantlement.  (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2017

pumping gas

As we reported last week, automobile industry groups wasted no time lobbying newly minted Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to reopen the book on the country’s fuel efficiency targets.

That volume had previously been slammed shut by Pruitt’s predecessor, putting an end to a midterm review and cementing the Obama-era light-duty vehicle target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Automakers would prefer not to be held to this rule, citing higher sticker prices caused by the addition of fuel-saving technology. Meanwhile, consumer and environmental groups have lobbied to keep the targets in place.

Well, according to a new report, the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard might not survive for long. Automakers, apparently, are about to see a wish come true. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2017

pumping fuel

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has decided to maintain current emissions and fuel economy standards through 2025, cementing a central pillar of the Obama administration’s green legacy.

Many automakers have been critical of Obama’s rather strict climate policies and were hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump might roll back some of the more stringent regulations. Of the policies, none is more controversial than the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandate, which began a midterm review earlier this year.

While the EPA’s ultimate determination wasn’t due until April of 2018, choosing not to alter 2025 vehicle emission and CAFE rules effectively locks in the standard before Trump can take office.  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2016

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to cement fuel economy targets before Inauguration Day wasn’t due to paranoia.

According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt, 48, is a top opponent of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and climate change policy, going so far as to organize legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt’s nod is bad news for environmentalists, and good news for industry. Automakers could soon find themselves less burdened by green tape. (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2016

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

After banishing Volkswagen Group diesels from the American marketplace, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking its sweet time approving oil burners from other automakers.

So slow is the EPA in providing regulatory thumbs-ups to 2017 model year diesel vehicles, one automaker is re-thinking its plans for the U.S., Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

gas-pump-save-ftr

Low-octane gasoline. It was great for the detuned boat anchors found under the hoods of 1970s Malaise-era barges, because you weren’t having fun, anyway.

The future of gasoline-powered vehicles is all about high-compression engines and ever-stricter environmental regulations, meaning gasoline with higher octane than today’s pumps can provide could be on the horizon. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2016

Porsche cayenne diesel

California’s Air Resources Board wants nothing to do with Volkswagen’s proposed fix for its 3.0-liter VW, Audi and Porsche TDI models equipped with emissions-cheating defeat devices.

The regulator rejected the automaker’s plan yesterday, and later issued a release calling it “incomplete and deficient in a number of areas.” For Volkswagen, CARB’s rejection is a major setback to its goal of settling the rest of its diesel emissions scandal fallout without another expensive buyback program. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2016

2016 Buick Enclave

General Motors is in damage control mode following the discovery of incorrect fuel economy ratings on the window stickers of its 2016 full-size crossovers.

A “stop sale” order was issued to GM dealers on Wednesday after EPA labels on GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave vehicles were shown to overstate mileage by one to two miles per gallon, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

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