By on May 2, 2018

America’s gas war is heating after 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to redefine U.S. vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency rules through 2025.

In April, EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the existing standards for model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles should be revised. The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, alleges the EPA acted unpredictably, failed to follow its own regulations, and was in direct violation of the Clean Air Act. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claimed the “Trump administration conducted a phony study” to justify altering emission rules to appease automakers and the oil industry.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui of California and Paul Tonko of New York are demanding the EPA hand over all documents related to the study that resulted in the proposed changes to fuel economy standards. 

According to Reuters, the lawmakers asked for access to all emails related to the development of the fuel proposal, prior drafts, a list of the staff that participated in its development, and a list of all meetings held with industry and stakeholders. The EPA responded by saying the proposal had not yet been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, but would be accessible then.

“The Agency is continuing to work with NHTSA to develop a joint proposed rule and is looking forward to the interagency process,” explained EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. It’s assumed the U.S. Transportation Department has already drafted a proposal that should made public sometime this month. However, the EPA is already circulating a draft in Washington that intends to fix vehicle requirements at 2020 levels through 2026.

That hasn’t sat well with the 17 states who collectively agreed to follow California’s example, remaining loyal to the extra stringent mandates established during the Obama administration. Matsui even went so far as to accuse Pruitt of making false statements to a Congressional committee, since the draft appears to ignore California’s Clean Air Act waiver. While speaking on Capitol Hill, the EPA chief said there was no plan to revoke the waiver at the time. However, the draft was penned prior to those statements.

The issue is also addressed in the lawsuit, though both camps seem to feel as if the Clean Air Act is on their side. The White House said it’s currently looking over the suit, but hasn’t said much otherwise.

It’s a very different story from the plaintiffs, however. California Governor Jerry Brown announced the suit’s filing in Sacramento this week, while simultaneously accusing the EPA of breaking the law and placing public health at risk. “This is about health, it’s about life and death,” Brown said. He then said Trump and Pruitt are only interested in forcing the public to buy more gas, creating more pollution as a result.

Adjusting for a shift in consumer demand to larger vehicles, the current rules are projecting to increase fuel efficiency to a fleet-wide average of 46.8 miles per gallon by 2026, according to a letter sent Tuesday by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Based on a copy of the draft proposal he obtained, the administration’s proposed changes would result in a fleet-wide average of 37 mpg within the same time frame. Carper believes the alterations would result in Americans using 206 billion more gallons of gasoline through 2050.

While other estimates have been more or less generous, the general consensus among the opposition is that changing the rules will result in the burning of more gas (duh). The Trump administration is expected to counter these claims by suggesting that softer fuel rules will result in more affordable vehicles and more jobs. It’s also wise to point out that practical sales-weighted efficiency averages for the country haven’t changed much in the last few years — not that reducing economy targets will change any of that.

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33 Comments on “Lawmakers Demand MPG Details, States File Lawsuit Against EPA...”

  • avatar

    “This is about health, it’s about life and death”

    “He then said Trump and Pruitt are only interested in ****”forcing**** the public to buy more gas”

    Much like the current WH administration, governor Brown sounds like a reasonable and level-headed fellow so I’m sure this situation will be resolved in a manner satisfactory to all sides.

    • 0 avatar

      Typical hyperbole from those with a vested interest in telling people what to do, what to buy, and how to live. The emissions standards are not changing, just the unworkable fuel economy standards that aren’t even achievable in the real world.

      The ultimate goal of these nanny-staters is to eliminate cars altogether, but first, impose rules that force automakers to build unsellable city cars with tiny engines and little utility outside of urban areas.

      The best way to counter these people is not to answer their demands but accuse them of being in the pockets of the bus, train, and trolley lobby. Since you can’t even move anything bigger than a small suitcase across town using the little micro cars that will result from their mileage restrictions, they’re obviously in the pockets of the moving van industry, and the paid parcel delivery industry too.

      To our “elites”, we “masses” should be living in five story tenement walkups like 19th century New Yorkers, taking the trolley everywhere in town, with energy priced so high we can’t afford air conditioning and have to spend hot Summer nights on the fire escape, and having our kids splash around at the fire hydrants in the streets, just like the idyllic old days, when only the elites had country homes by the water and big cars.

      Call them out! They’re dreaming of a past the rest of us don’t want.

    • 0 avatar

      Brown also fights tooth and nails against the ICE enforcing existing federal laws, too so we all know he’s VERY stable.

  • avatar

    Those 18 states represents majority of wealth and population

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, what? You do realize Cali ranked 43rd in fiscal health last year? New York want much better at 38 or 39.

      • 0 avatar

        “At 3.97 percent, California had the most GDP growth (of all states) between 2013 and 2016”.
        US News & World Reort, cting data from McKinsey & Co.

    • 0 avatar

      Sacramento is not the capital of the United States of America.
      A national policy must prevail here.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s nice. If you’ll refer to the US Constitution, you’ll see that these 18 states do not have the right to enter into climate treaties with foreign nations, and the certainly don’t have the right to impose foreign treaties on the rest of us.

      Furthermore, if they had any electoral prowess, they would merely wait until the midterms and change legislation when they will allegedly acquire power. Clearly, they are worried about their electoral power as well. Their behavior almost makes it seem that 5M illegals really did vote in the 2016 election.

  • avatar

    Left increasingly goes hysterical in its demands. Sheer lunacy.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Give the entire Armed Forces every weekend off and park/ground absolutely everything. Pollution halved and cheap gas for all.

  • avatar

    Do those 38 states have their own system of arithmetic, or does “a moderate level of intelligence” mean something different in different parts of the country?

  • avatar

    ““This is about health, it’s about life and death,” Brown said.”

    Bullsh!t as$hole its about power.

    “Carper believes the alterations would result in Americans using 206 billion more gallons of gasoline through 2050.”

    Christ on a bike, how can you accurately see thirty two years into the future with any clarity? Oh that’s right, *you can’t*. So you took the highest numbers you had and multiplied them past the number of years for which you had a realistic estimate. Did your model take into account Agenda 21, er, EV adoption? I’m waiting.

    Schneiderman wants to be governor. Time for Wikileaks and/or 4chan to get to work.

    • 0 avatar

      By this logic, how can we say with any certainty that scrapping these fuel economy targets will make cars more affordable and create jobs? Where do you think average fuel economy would have been today with no standards? I guess baseless predictions are sound if you agree with their conclusions.

      As always, the reasonable solution probably lies somewhere in the middle, but the debate has been hijacked by extremists with an ax to grind with “the other side”. As if we are all not Americans. What a great time for the country.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not.

        “Where do you think average fuel economy would have been today with no standards? ”

        Wherever the market demanded, I suspect by now it would be something to the effect of 40mpg avg from The Japanese Three and probably pushing 20-25 from Detroit. My rationale is without such overreaching mandates you would also have looser emissions obsession and thus would be able to achieve greater fuel economy without all of the hacks being employed today.

        ” I guess baseless predictions are sound if you agree with their conclusions.”

        Attempting to accurately predict anything in 2050 is baseless. Extra terrestrials could land between now and then, Humanity may have Mars colonies, new forms of energy could be discovered. Too far off of a date to rule those sort of things out.

        “As always, the reasonable solution probably lies somewhere in the middle, but the debate has been hijacked by extremists with an ax to grind with “the other side”.”

        I completely agree.

        As if we are all not [undocumented] Americans. Oh, wait…

    • 0 avatar

      4chan, huh? I think you just outed yourself.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This comment from the author I’m getting a chuckle from;

    “Adjusting for a shift in consumer demand to larger vehicles”. What is driving consumer demand for larger vehicles? Is there anyway the US can modify this?

    Well, how do you fix that problem?

    Increase the fuel tax to a realistic level incrementally to allow the economy to adjust from high energy consuming products to more economical products.

    • 0 avatar

      Is anyone too chicken brain to see the clusterfuk Europe has on its hands by taxing the hell out of fuel? They took the easy/simple way, except you get what you pay for.

      Doesn’t reaching a compromise sound more reasonable or American? Say 25 mpg CAFE (sticker) and under that pay an initial/yearly Gas Guzzler tax, incrementally up to F-450 pickups?

      This would encourage consumers, businesses and automakers to conserve moderately without the ecological and health fallout/catastrophe.

      • 0 avatar

        If those states want to discourage fuel use and encourage purchase of BEVs and more fuel efficient cars, let them increase their fuel taxes. Their subjects will either be forced to reduce their fuel use, one way or the other, or simply pay more for the privilege of their profligate consumption. That would have a greater immediate impact than forcing the production of higher rated mileage vehicles to be purchased some time down the road; they’d be forcing less consumption right now instead of years in the future, and discourage those people driving their big ole pickups and SUVs from destroying the planet.

        It’s for the children.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Thats not how free markets work. While we don’t exactly have a free market, government involvement would be extremely detrimental. Let the consumers decide on what MPGs and emissions they can live with.

    • 0 avatar

      If the federal government sees something as virtuous and inherently useful to the American public, they can pay people to engage in that activity. Sumptuary taxes and prohibitions are for criminal activities, and they never work when applied elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      What some folks from areas outside the United States fail to realize is that the US Consumer IS the United States, not the US Government (help hired by the US Consumers). If the US Consumer demand is for larger vehicles, the United States therefore demands larger vehicles. The US Consumer does not seem to prefer the cramped Euro-boxes constrained by crazy taxation schemes. The US will modify this choice when the US Consumer (re: the United States) decides to make a modification. Emulating tax-heavy socialist societies does not seem to be on the current agenda.

    • 0 avatar

      Uh, actually, the CAFE standards are a large part of what is driving the demand for larger vehicles. The bigger the vehicle’s footprint, the lower the fuel economy standard it has to meet. Also, SUVs and trucks automatically have a lower standard than cars. I think this is one of the major reasons that Ford is abandoning cars.

      Honestly, since the automakers helped cook up CAFE, I think they did this deliberately. They identified the trend in consumer demand that enables them to charge thousands more dollars for a hatchback with AWD and a lift kit. Then they deliberately steered the legal process to an end that has rewards for SUVs and light trucks “baked in”. Those are the two most profitable vehicle segments, and CAFE rewards the manufacturers for building those same segments. I think Ford will not be the only automaker shedding most of its car lines, if CAFE sticks around in its present form. Ford is just abandoning the charade sooner than other manufacturers.

      • 0 avatar

        “…Uh, actually, the CAFE standards are a large part of what is driving the demand for larger vehicles…”

        Americas have been fans of larger vehicle long before CAFE was conceived.

        “…The bigger the vehicle’s footprint, the lower the fuel economy standard…”

        OK, how would you do it? The bigger the vehicle, the *higher* the fuel economy standard? What sense would that make? Either they were gonna *allow* bigger vehicles, or not. Within reason of course.

        “…SUVs and trucks automatically have a lower standard than cars…”

        The original CAFE wasn’t designed to “severely” alter what we’re allowed to drive, or what automakers could market, but to not get hit with the Gas Guzzler Tax, cars downsized going from the ’70s to the ’80s, although big “land yachts” were increasing going out of style, not unlike bell-bottoms, butterfly collars, wide ties, etc.

        The ’70s Oil Embargo had greater impact on downsizing that anything.

        So when midsize SUVs became the latest Hot trend, NHTSA had a big problem with how chintzy they were built, including minivans and mini trucks. So they were all made “exempt” from the Gas Guzzler, classifying them as “Trucks”, early ’90s.

        “…I think this is one of the major reasons that Ford is abandoning cars…”

        Sedans, besides lacking profitability for Ford/GM, and cater to fleets too, would be impossible to meet (debated) CAFE 54.5 mpg (40 mpg EPA sticker).
        SUVs and pickups carry more than enough profits to pay any potential CAFE fines.

        There should be legislative compromise, since most Americans favor everything that’s not smaller sedans and subcompacts (yes clean air too), and this isn’t Europe, thankfully.

        I mean we’re all adults here.

        • 0 avatar

          “Sedans, besides lacking profitability for Ford/GM, and cater to fleets too, would be impossible to meet (debated) CAFE 54.5 mpg (40 mpg EPA sticker).
          SUVs and pickups carry more than enough profits to pay any potential CAFE fines.”

          Yeah, that’s basically my point. CAFE as presently set up only reinforces the market trend in favor of SUVs and pickups. Not that I *necessarily* see a huge problem with that. But let’s acknowledge that there are both demand-side and supply-side factors going on.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I hate to get “political”, but these are the same types that seem to think states rights are only good when they agree with the laws or process. These are the same kinda folks who say “I don’t think states should regulate X because I don’t agree with it. It should be regulated by the federal government”

    Very hypocritical.

    • 0 avatar

      Both sides 100% do this. Environmental regulation? The right says “let the states decide” (while working to undermine states that go for stricter regulation.) Pot? Federally regulated. Bust the “bad hombre” pot dealers. Let’s not have partisan selectivity in our scrutiny. That is how we got into this mess.

    • 0 avatar

      We’re talking about interstate commerce and the federal government’s ability to regulate interstate commerce. We’re also talking about their ability to regulate or not-regulate various “pollutants”.

      The only debate regarding states’ rights pertains to the neo-Confederacy attempting to subjugate the rights of neo-Union states and install a new defacto EPA in the form of CARB.

      This isn’t so much a question of environmental law as it is a question about whether or not the US still hangs traitors who attempt to backchannel international environmental treaties with foreign governments.

  • avatar

    Pot, meet kettle.

  • avatar
    volvo driver

    Pruit’s EPA decided to break the law, now they’re going to pay the price. Why is every Trumptard acting surprised all of a sudden.

  • avatar

    so said the volvo driver. You know, I was once a volvo driver but then I smartened up.
    Now, where is Kyree when you need him to moderate the foul language?

  • avatar

    Congressional midterm review is part of the law, and Congress/EPA have the ability to modify the program based upon changes in sales mx, energy market, economy, etc.

    The neo-Confederacy has no case.

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