NHTSA: Congressional Blocking Of EPA GH Gas Rules May Backfire

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
nhtsa congressional blocking of epa gh gas rules may backfire

The Obama Administration warns that automakers could be hit with unintended acceleration of their costs if Congress succeeds in blocking EPA greenhouse gas emissions. The Detroit News reports:

In a letter to congressional leaders, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief counsel, O. Kevin Vincent, said Congress would jeopardize a deal reached by automakers, California and the White House if it blocks the EPA from using its power to limit greenhouse gases.

California and a dozen states could go forward, each with its own rules, if Congress blocks EPA from setting national standards. That would have the impact of “creating confusion, encouraging renewed litigation, and driving up the cost of compliance to automobile manufacturers and consumers alike,” Vincent wrote.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced a bill to block EPA’s power under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions from motor vehicles and other sources. Two key House Democrats — the chairmen of the House Agriculture and Armed Services Committees — have introduced a similar bill.

Passage of Murkowski’s bill “would have profoundly adverse effects on the national economy, national environmental and energy security objectives, and the economically distressed automobile manufacturing industry,” Vincent wrote.

The administration (NHTSA & EPA) is trying to wrap up a combined fuel economy and tailpipe limit for 2012-2016 model year vehicles that would cost an estimated $60 billion. The 2016 fleet average would be 34.1 mpg for cars and trucks.

The proposed standards would reduce emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years — the projected equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year. It would save motorists $3,000 in fuel over the lifetime of the vehicles, but add an average of $1,300 to the purchase price of a new vehicle.

Several states, including Texas, Virginia and Alabama, along with business groups and others have filed suit to block the EPA from exercising its authority it won under an April 2007 Supreme Court decision.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade association representing Detroit’s Big Three, Toyota Motor Corp. and other major automakers, wants the joint regulations finalized.

“It’s important to manufacturers to have those rules in place so that we can finalize future product plans,” said alliance spokesman Charles Territo.

[ Detroit News]

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  • George B George B on Mar 01, 2010

    All states have the ability to do the one thing guaranteed to reduce carbon dioxide output: raise fuel excise taxes to make fuel expensive. I hear California could use that tax revenue right now too. Using pollution regulations to try to force consumers to buy more fuel efficient cars is a weasely way for politicians to act green while only pissing off the minority of voters buying a car in a given year. If I understand the structure of the Clean Air Act, it allows California to have a separate set of pollution regulations because CARB existed before the original clean air act, but new state regulations different from California are preempted. If congress blocks federal carbon dioxide regulation, auto manufacturers would have to go back to dealing with separate "California" back door fuel economy rules vs. uniform across the country fuel economy rules. Why would auto manufacturers choose uniform rules pushing uniform low profit small cars over two sets of rules and the chance to profit from light truck sales in most of the states?

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Mar 01, 2010

    First off, allowing CA to set their own standards is a good test of what can be done. Second, LA, CA is hemmed in by mountains and has an enormous number of cars so the people there need relief from engines that can't produce some power without making a mess. Third, the idea of CA, OR, WA, BC, HA, and maybe Japan getting together and creating a new country might be a very good idea. This new country wouldn't have to subsidize the corn growers, the coal companies, or pay for the wars to keep oil prices lower. And you "I hate government" types would have great fun seeing how much your government would shrink after loosing CA tax revenue.

    • Crash sled Crash sled on Mar 02, 2010
      "Third, the idea of CA, OR, WA, BC, HA, and maybe Japan getting together and creating a new country might be a very good idea. This new country wouldn’t have to subsidize the corn growers, the coal companies, or pay for the wars to keep oil prices lower. And you “I hate government” types would have great fun seeing how much your government would shrink after loosing CA tax revenue." . . Well, I'm all for Cali setting whatever standards they want. And I'm all for Cali seceding from the Union if they want. I don't think you quite understand the ramifications of that secession, however. It'll hurt Cali far more than it hurts anybody here in the US. - The newly founded nation state of California would be devoid of harbors, as all navigable waterways belong to the Feds. Those would be available for lease to Cali, for a price. Alternatively, Cali could build their own. Good luck financing that. - The interstate highway, rail and even utility rights-of-way would belong to the Feds, and be available for lease or purchase, or not, as the case may be. - Past utilities agreements would be void. Favored status would revert to the remaining states, and past Cali rolling blackouts would become an everyday occurrence. Good luck financing replacement capacity. - All military reservations would remain in Fed hands. All foreign nationals might be removed from those locations, or not. Purchasing would favor US interests, not a foreign nation's. - Cali territorial waters to extend only to a 3-mile limit. Outside that, and with the removal of Cali enviro foolishness from the equation, the oil/gas drilling derricks would pop up like Spring crocuses. Drill, baby, drill! Oh, and all other inland federal lands in Cali would do likewise. - Of course, the US would likely be leasing harbor space to whoever wants it, like maybe the Somali pirates for example, who'd be free to go gangsta on a feeble nation's shipping. Good luck financing a Navy. - That Fed paid water in the Valley? Gone. The backbone of Cali... agriculture... gone. No more greening of the desert at Uncle Sugar's expense. There'll be a meter on that water, for the first time ever. However, I don't expect Cali to unlatch from this welfare teat... ever. It's their backbone, and paid for by the rest of us. - The US would allow current companies and citizens the choice of whether to remain a part of the US, and the most productive would certainly opt to do so. Cali would be left with a bunch of public employees, a disfunctinal Sacramento government, and a prison system chock full of criminals, plus some nice beaches. The largest welfare state in the world. The US would lose Pebble Beach. Oh well. Hey, I'm all for Cali exercising their right to self determination. It'd save us the Governator's pleading for $10B of our cash right now, for sure. And we wouldn't have to fund that Tesla scam.

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