By on October 25, 2018

California and 18 other states plan to formally vent their grievances over the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel economy standards at 2020 levels on Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have called for public comments on the matter, with the deadline taking place at the end of this week. Apparently, California wants its voice to be the last one heard.

“They are grossly derelict in not trying to move the dial forward in cleaning the air and the environment,” California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “The situation continues to get worse and requires action now, and not for us to stand pat.” 

According to Bloomberg, Becerra called the administration’s proposal “unlawful” since it sets out to revoke California’s ability to self regulate economy standards and set quotas for electric car sales within the state. He also said the plan violates the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires extensive documentation before any existing regulations can be overturned, as well as the EPA’s statutory obligation to reduce harmful pollution.

The subplot of this narrative includes a preexisting lawsuit with the EPA over its decision to support the rollback; something California deemed capricious in nature.

Both the EPA and NHTSA have supported the capping of federal fuel economy requirements at a fleet average of 37 mpg starting in 2020. Under the previous rules, which California and 18 other states support, the fleet average would have risen to around 47 mpg by 2025. However, the current administration has deemed that unsustainable for consumers, manufacturers, and the overall economy. Regardless, 13 states and the District of Columbia have vowed to follow California’s lead by attempting to adhere to the Obama-era targets.

“The administration proposal will lead to dirtier air, cause people to pay higher prices at the pump, and increase the cost of climate change,” Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general who is backing Becerra said. She claims the pollution would be concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods with heavy traffic, all because Trump backs the rollback “solely for the purpose of taking billions of dollars out of the pockets of consumers, and giving it to Big Oil.”

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74 Comments on “California Preps Formal Response in Gas War, Calls MPG Rollback ‘Unlawful’...”


  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    California really should secede.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    They will oppose anything the White House proposes because this system of government was not designed to handle the utter lunacy which is occurring today.

    Kent Brockman sums up my thoughts:

    youtube.com/watch?v=kWdfRRtAs3o

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Queue all the CA hate that will pour forth in the comments. *sigh*

    Probably best for the two sides to reach a compromise and be done with it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “Probably best for the two sides to reach a compromise and be done with it.”

      I don’t think that’s even remotely possible. They’re conceptually diametrically opposed.

      CA ideals, goals and lifestyle simply do not work in many other states of the Union.

      Where with previous administrations the US gov’t often adopted CA automotive proposals and mandates as beneficial nationwide, there is no chance that the current administration will adopt anything that CA has to offer.

      And I’m glad. I think the current administration has done great things for America and has certainly been much better for the global auto industry and much better for more working Americans than any other administration since Reagan.

      Trump’s policies work for me and mine. USA! USA! USA!

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        True that, HDC

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Ah, the conservative mantra of “I got mine, [email protected] the rest of you!”

        How do your kids and grand kids feel about paying back that $1.9 trillion that the orange man added to the national debt? Funny you should bring up how great Reagan was as he grew the debt by 186%. Something for the twitterer-in-chief to aspire to.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Obama literally added more national debt than all other presidents combined. You can’t suddenly claim to care about national debt when you were completely silent for 8 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Hummer: False. Obama inherited a debt increase that was running at a record pace from his predecessor. His policies managed to slow that rate of debt increase and even reverse it before he left office. His successor has reversed the direction again, increasing the country’s rate of debt increase.

            It’s not as black-and-white as you would like to believe.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            “You can’t suddenly claim to care about national debt when you were completely silent for 8 years.”

            “Yes we can.” Why not? The Republicans always complain about it until they get into office too.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Vulpine Obamas final debt tally was $9.3 Trillion, blaming it on his predecessor is about as stupid as saying the economy is doing better thanks to Trumps predecessor which is clearly a laughable statement.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Hummer: “Obamas final debt tally was $9.3 Trillion…”

            The final tally is irrelevant WHEN looking at the direction of travel. When the charts showed the rate of expenditures–the growth of the debt–Obama’s legacy is the fact that he reversed the trend. His predecessor took us from a BALANCED budget to record spending at the time and it took Obama’s eight years to reverse that spending rate.

            It has only taken our current administration two years to send the debt rate back into record territory with the almost-obvious intent to bankrupt this country and force it into a corporate-based oligarchy where the PEOPLE have no power and money rules everything. In other words, a corporate dictatorship. I’ll tell you now, that kind of system can not work.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Provide some sources please, because I know very well everything you just said was pulled out of your posterior.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    What California has failed to realize is that this is what happens when your side loses. You don’t get to call the shots anymore. I seem to dimly recall them saying something similar to the other side once upon a time. Guess they forgot since then.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I seem to dimly recall the other side trumpeting up states’ rights a long time ago too. Funny how partisan standings tend to color one’s view of states’ rights.

      Both sides are probably guilty of that at this point. Again, compromise is not a bad thing here.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      What you and your ilk fail to realize is that we have laws in place that apply whether your side won or lost. That means that regulatory changes have to be supported by reasonable evidence, government actions can’t be arbitrary or capricious, and that you can’t govern on a whim simply because your guy got more electoral votes.

      Maybe a few more smackdowns in court will make this clear, but honestly at this stage I doubt the message will ever sink in.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Government can’t be arbitrary or capricious? Since when? It’s arbitrary and capricious every time someone wins a “mandate” of 50.01% electoral votes. The proposed fuel economy measures were arbitrary and capricious (to the other side). Removing them is arbitrary and capricious (to the other side). And so on does the world turn. Unless you’re on one side or the other, then I guess the world is going to end if your side loses.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          “The proposed fuel economy measures were arbitrary and capricious (to the other side).”

          No, the proposed fuel economy measures were the result of thousands upon thousands of hours of analysis and debate and the consideration of multiple stakeholders and subject-matter experts. The whole point of the Administrative Procedures Act is that the world does _not_ so turn simply because of which side is in the White House.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Thereby establishing which side you’re on. I know you’re looking for someone to win against and delcare your agenda the victor but I don’t have a dog in this fight. I just want all partisans to go away so us normal people can get on with our lives.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            Then you should stop pretending that the rule of law is a partisan issue, and admit that there’s a difference between agency action that results from extensive analysis and follows the Administrative Procedures Act, and an edict that contradicts the analysis of even the agency writing the rule.

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-14/epa-doubted-car-fuel-economy-freeze-would-save-lives-as-claimed

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            “Then you should stop pretending that the rule of law is a partisan issue…”

            Except that the Agency, being a part of the Executive Branch, changes its partisan bent with each election, and therefore changes both their analysis process and their conclusions, not to mention their enforcement (or lack thereof) of certain policies. And if you don’t think an Executive Branch Agency can be partisan, take a look at ICE perhaps. Or BATF. Or even the FBI.

            Bottom line is, complaints about an Executive branch agency not following whatever generally translate to “I know we lost but how come they’re not doing what my side decided to do back before we lost?” The answer to that is, your side lost and the other side won. Now said Agencies will so that side’s bidding. And when that side loses, and your side takes over again, and redirects said Agencies to do your bidding, the other side will say…wait for it….”I know we lost but how come they’re not doing what my side decided to do back before we lost?” And you know what you’re going to tell them? That their side lost and your side won. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “No, the proposed fuel economy measures were the result of thousands upon thousands of hours of analysis and debate and the consideration of multiple stakeholders and subject-matter experts. The whole point of the Administrative Procedures Act is that the world does _not_ so turn simply because of which side is in the White House.”
            — The current Administration would beg to differ, as the heads of these offices that used to do the “thousands upon thousands of hours of analysis and debate” have been replaced and all the hours of science and debate have been thrown out the window.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “— The current Administration would beg to differ, as the heads of these offices that used to do the “thousands upon thousands of hours of analysis and debate” have been replaced and all the hours of science and debate have been thrown out the window.”

            and everyone’s fine with that. This country has a long, long history of distrusting knowledge and expertise, and instead everyone goes with their “gut feeling” no matter how pants-on-head stupid it is.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Not everyone is fine with it, JimZ; only those who want to believe nothing is wrong with the world.

    • 0 avatar

      We have become a Parliamentary system now. Not what the framers intended, but they also never saw “Citizens United” coming, were very leery of chartered companies, and didn’t intend the politicians to be career people.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Lisa Madigan”

    Wasn’t there a Madigan who bankrupted Illinois or am I mistaken?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…the fleet average would have risen to around 47 mpg by 2025. However, the current administration has deemed that unsustainable for consumers, manufacturers, and the overall economy”

    The current administration is correct on that point.

    “solely for the purpose of taking billions of dollars out of the pockets of consumers, and giving it to Big Oil”

    1. Consumers gladly do this every day.
    2. Such a vapid statement is more becoming of a politician than an attorney general. Oh, wait…

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    “Cleaner Air” my A$$. It’s just corruption by any States challenging the EPA on this. Automaker’s profits from potentially/proposed “outlaw” gas guzzlers, would easily pay CAFE fines, instead not selling in those states, or somehow meeting insane targets, easily into the billions annually.

    Do all of those money hungry states even have mandatory “Smog Checks”?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      A) Those 19 states make up roughly 80% of the US population;
      B) I can’t speak for all 19 states, but from personal knowledge I know of five who do, my own being one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Vulpine,
        I don’t know if you stats are accurate, but I see it this way. Donnie Dump El Presidento of MAGA Inc wants people to buy ‘murican cars.

        So, what does Donnie Dump do do? He increased the cost of raw materials to produce them, forces other countries to increase taxes on ‘murican items, then believe it or not wants ‘murican auto manufacturers to produces vehicles that are becoming are becoming less competitive with FE.

        WTF ‘murica!!

        What’s wrong with improving efficiency?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Big Al: If he wants Americans to buy American cars, then he needs to ensure they can AFFORD those cars. He’s doing everything in his power to drive prices beyond affordability even through leasing!

          He thinks the economy is good but one of the reasons car sales are slowing is that fewer people are able to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      CA has Smog Checks, every other year.

      Crap, I just realized I have to pay my annual registration renewal fee. Back in a bit…

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      I distinctly remember a Volvo ad from a few decades ago (when owned by Ford) that proudly proclaimed the LA air coming OUT of the tailpipe was cleaner than the air going into the intake. Take that, Cally-Fore-Nee-Ah.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The only way to stop carbon oxide emissions is to stop burning hydrocarbons. It’s that simple. The process of burning ANYTHING combines oxygen with the carbon in whatever is being burned. That Volvo’s emissions may have had less than LA’s other pollutants but I highly doubt it had less carbon oxides than it drew in.

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          There is no need to stop carbon dioxide emissions since CO2 is not a pollutant.

          You need to instead start taking a look at the imminent threat posed by dihydrogen monoxide, a chemical commonly used as an industrial solvent that is now pervasive throughout the environment, and even found in our own bodies. It has been scientifically proven to be fatal in sufficient concentrations. We need to to stop the corporations from continuing to destroy the planet with dihydrogen monoxide.

  • avatar
    ernest

    I’m going to have to ease off my criticism of California a bit. Last month I got a $230 surprise in the form of a “Privilege Tax” in Oregon when we registered the new Highlander. That Privilege Tax is for the ability to buy a new SUV. Grrrr….. It shouldn’t make me that angry- or surprised. But it sure did. ‘Friggin Progressives destroy everything they touch.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” ‘Friggin Progressives destroy everything they touch.”

      Californians deserve what they get because they vote for it!

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      “Friggin Progressives destroy everything they touch”

      Truth

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      – Deepwater Horizon
      – Texas City Refinery
      – Imperial Foods (North Carolina)
      – Upper Big Branch Mine
      – West Fertilizer

      and let’s not forget Union Carbide.

      Industry/Capitalism kills and destroys plenty too. but I guess that’s OK with you so long as the right people are still making money off of it.

  • avatar
    DrSandman

    I distinctly remember a Volvo ad from a few decades ago (when owned by Ford) that proudly proclaimed the LA air coming OUT of the tailpipe was cleaner than the air going into the intake. Take that, Cally-Fore-Nee-Ah.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    This is motivated by concern about climate change, not MPG for MPG sake, so those in favor of higher standards literally see it as a matter of life and death. Whereas those opposed appear to live for the pleasure of “owning the libs” and see this as an opportunity to that. Another episode in the battle of the painfully earnest vs. the disturbingly malicious.

    Thing is though:

    1) if you don’t live in CA, who cares? Let them go their own high-MPG-driving, pot-legalizing way.

    2) there are enough loopholes in MPG regs to drive a dually diesel through anyway–the real figure is vastly lower than the paper figure, so it’s not even remotely the end of the world for any automaker.

    3) still, it does mean significantly lower total fuel demand, and lower fuel demand = lower fuel prices (assuming you believe in market economics), and who doesn’t like cheap gas?

    4) lower total fuel demand = we can stop sending money to countries that spend it on acts of war and terror against us.

    5) if the vast majority of climate scientists DO turn out to be right, it could help save our bacon. (Literally–have you SEEN those underwater hog farms after the hurricane?)

    • 0 avatar

      “Another episode in the battle of the painfully earnest vs. the disturbingly malicious.”

      Brilliant ! I’m stealing that……

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @HotPotato: “Another episode in the battle of the painfully earnest vs. the disturbingly malicious.”
      — Nice one; and I agree with you. However;

      1) People in 13 other states have adopted California’s CARB rules and aren’t going to let California go down without a fight. One of those states is Trump’s own New York.

      2) The problem with those loopholes is that they’re the reason pickup trucks have grown so big and cars have grown so small. The only GOOD thing those CAFE rules have done is triggered some few companies to explore electrification to improve fleet-wide economy and one startup to invest totally in electric vehicles. The best way to avoid CAFE and CARB is to simply not burn any fuel at all.

      3) I agree with you on market economics. The more EVs on the road, the less liquid fuels will be used. Gas stops and convenience stores will migrate away from gas pumps as the time approaches for replacing their tanks again because the demand is down. Of course, this will mean that supply goes down for those who still run ICE vehicles and as a result, prices will rise to balance availability. Oh, and hydrogen fuel cells aren’t going to be the panacea some believe… not as long as the hydrogen is cracked from hydrocarbons, which is cheaper and more efficient than electrolysis, even if more expensive than current refining of those hydrocarbons. Fuel costs will go up if FCEV cars become dominant and we’ll still have an issue with carbon oxides… from the refineries.

      4) An ideal we’re not likely to realize at least for another 20 years.

      5) Ultimately, true… but you forget the rubber-band effect. Or rather, inertia. Just because mankind is no longer adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere doesn’t mean things will return to “normal” right away. The existing gasses have to leech out of the atmosphere either through natural means (greenery) or artificial like CO2 traps, methane traps, etc. It took us 300 years to get to where we are from the time we started the industrial age; the last 50 years have seen the highest acceleration yet. It may take 300 years or longer for the Earth to return to its ‘normal’ heating and cooling cycle.

  • avatar
    craiger

    How any car enthusiast can support CAFE is beyond me. Do we all want to be forced to drive cars with low displacement four or even three cylinder engines with very high pressure turbos and possibly even electric assist? Cars made with expensive materials to save weight and still protect you in a crash? Inflation of new car prices has tracked way above the general rate for a long time now. Mechanical and body repair costs as well.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      How can any car enthusiast not support electrification? Look at the performance of the Rimac Concept 2. Tesla P100D and Model 3 Performance. For hybrids, check out the Regera. V8 and electric done right. Electrification is the next stage of high performance.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Have you ever driven an electric assist? All that low-end torque is a lovely thing. Frankly electric motors would be great for off-road vehicles, they rely on tons low-end torque. I love my Niro Hybrid, between the electric motor’s 0 RPM torque peak, and the DCT, it feels a lot more powerful than it actually is.

  • avatar

    No political content here:
    Are the proposed MPG attainable ? US companies will cry if you increase the cost a quarter of a dollar, but what does this mean for the typical buyer ? What kind of car does the new proposals require ? How much will it cost ?

    If the typical car becomes, say a BMW i3, do we want that ? I’m happy that the big 2.5 etc are stamping out SUV for mad money, and that is only as long as gas is cheap and the US does not care about carbon, but does this put us all into, say, Smart cars ?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “Are the proposed MPG attainable ? What kind of car does the new proposals require ? How much will it cost ?”

      They’re easily attainable, cars meeting those standards are already here and have been for years. The problem is that they’re small and expensive and nobody wants to buy them. Given the choice between CAFE 2025 compliant and not, 97-98% of buyers choose not.

      The California answer, as always, is to take away the choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      47 mpg isn’t really 47 mpg. It’s something less than 40 mpg, given the formula used to calculate it.

      In any case, the mileage requirements of CAFE 2.0 were designed to be renegotiated over time.

      The real goal of the latest version of CAFE is to push OEMs to use technology to save fuel. So that means less weight, hybrid technology, start-stop systems and the like.

      The EU has fuel economy standards similar in concept to the first version of CAFE (fleet averages, with credits for electric vehicles.) Nations such as Brazil and China have displacement taxes.

      So the automakers have to do this stuff, anyway. Having OEMs that are lean and mean here helps them to be more competitive abroad.

  • avatar
    CombiCoupe99

    Liberal hegemony. Not interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Since when did wanting to conserve natural resources, improve energy efficiency, and protect the environment become solely a “liberal” pursuit?

      Teddy Roosevelt would like a word with you, and he looks pissed.

  • avatar
    St.George

    I understand that the 47 mpg CAFE standard was one of those delayed ‘bombs’ left at the end of the outgoing administrations reign to trip up the new guy.

    Anyway, what will happen if everyone magically starts driving 47 mpg hatchbacks will be a decline in revenue for both the oil companies & government. You can bet your bottom dollar that both will jack up the price & taxes to make up for the lost revenue. The honorable MS Madigans argument that by not implementing this onerous standard will hurt the poor is complete BS. I can also foresee the price of the car increasing, and the routine maintenance costs increasing also.

    By the way, Europe does of course have emissions standards but not a target mpg. They tax vehicles that emit more at a higher rate, this naturally encourages folks to buy smaller, more economical vehicles. To me, setting an arbitrary mpg target isn’t the best way of going about things.

    And before anyone gets their panties wadded, I like economical vehicles (have a strange hankering for a CT200h), renewable energy, the environment and trucks/steaks/boats/planes & The Constitution as written & intended, go figure!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      No, the EU does have a fuel economy standard that is similar to the first version of CAFE.

      By 2021, the required average for cars and vans is 95 grams per km. That works out to be 57 mpg in US gallons.

      But that’s from a lab test that is known to be optimistic. In practice, they are expecting the real world fuel economy to average about 134 g/km, which is about 40 mpg.

      In the US, 47 mpg for the CAFE test works out to be about 35 mpg on the window sticker.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s good to see the return of Pch101, who likely realized that his valuable input would not now fall into a massive sinkhole of extreme right-wing insanity, as they typically did when the Baruth Breitbart Bannon Brothers were commenting frequently and pushing out all rational discourse with their overly politicized and nonsensical editorializing and nearly nonstop stream of baths!t crazy thought diarrhea.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Well, that’s kind of you, although I haven’t read this site in ages and have almost no idea what has been going on during that time. Has it really been that bad?

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Oh it has. This site has turned into a looney right-wing echo-chamber. Any remotely “liberal” comment is immediately bombarded with verbal diarrhea calling the commentor a sufferer of TDS, an NPC, or other stupidity from 4Chan and /r/T_D, etc…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That doesn’t sound much different from before. Robert Farago was a fair-minded conservative, but there have always been some whackjob posters in the comments sections here.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Pch101,
            Its true about TTAC. In my opinion ever since The Truth About The NRA joined the company I think the Baruths were being paid to market Trump Inc.

            And a migration of ultra right wing morons followed.

            Its great to see your name here again, even though we disagreed often.

            Hang around.

  • avatar
    brn

    Can we not call it an “MPG rollback”? The proposal is to freeze the requirements at the 2020 levels. In other words, still make it more stringent than it is now.


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