Gas War: California Regulators Say Biden Should Embrace State's Emission Plan

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gas war california regulators say biden should embrace states emission plan

While multiple states launch mandatory election recounts and President Trump throws around lawsuits like confetti Joe Biden and the mainstream media are preparing for his ascension from regular old man to Leader of the Free World — though that title doesn’t seem to get much play these days. Biden has already started holding meetings with foreign leaders and experts on how to go about heading the United States. Apparently, there’s even been some progress on how to govern the nation.

On Thursday, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairwoman Mary Nichols said the state’s arrangement with major automakers over fuel efficiency requirements would be ideal for the presumed Biden administration — which has promised to implement some of the most ambitious emissions standards the world has ever seen. Nichols also expressed excitement at the possibility of heading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a Biden presidency and is reportedly under serious consideration for the position.

“I have said that I am very interested, but I think I also just need to make clear that I am interested in volunteering to do anything that is of service to the new administration,” Nichols said in an interview with Reuters.

a huge volume of stuff that needs to be reversed and repudiated,” she said of the Trump administration’s EPA, adding that some of the President’s policies could be undone “informally” via “negotiation and good will.”

Despite a prolonged (and rather nasty) political deadlock, the Trump administration finalized its rollback of U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in March. Rules currently require 1.5 percent annual increases in efficiency through 2026 — a concession to appease Democrats angry with the original proposal, although substantially lower than the 5 percent annual increase the Obama administration demanded before being supplanted. Of course, those targets were ultimately deemed unsustainable by the very same people that penned them — which makes us wonder why leadership seems so eager to see them reintroduced. But one could lose their mind wondering why the government is so consistently inconstant.

California and a coalition of supportive states have long been standing against Trump’s national fuel rollback and have vowed to retain the Obama-era rules. Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW even pledged their support ( resulting in a brief antitrust suit) and promised to adhere to a higher standard while other manufacturers stayed neutral or sided with the Trump administration’s deregulation strategy.

CARB has long been a proponent of strengthening Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards but has recently pivoted setting hard limits on the types of vehicles that can be sold to the public and encouraging the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. It’s also been trying to export that mindset to the rest of the country, with success often dictated by how much a region’s economy is dependent upon a thriving oil industry.

From Reuters:

Nichols said fuel efficiency requirements should be increased but added: “I don’t think honestly the future of CAFE is the relevant question … This is not where the action is.”

She told Reuters CAFE standards, first adopted as part of a 1975 law, are “not the most relevant tool for dealing with the future of transportation in this country or globally” as the industry shifts away from internal combustion vehicles toward electric and other zero-emissions models. “Our future is not with the internal combustion engine.”

This year, California Governor and lifelike Ken doll Gavin Newsom directed CARB to draft regulations to ban the sale of gasoline-powered passenger cars starting in 2035. While Nichols has said the goal presents real logistical challenges for the state, she believes it’s a policy worth pursuing.

[Image: CC7/Shutterstock.com]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 15, 2020

    Yes the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Defense Drawdown along with a booming economy did help. I doubt there will be an attempt to balance a budget anytime soon especially with Covid-19 and the aftermath.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 15, 2020

    Eventually EVs or hydrogen powered vehicles could outnumber ICE vehicles but that is a long long way off and it will be more to do with advances in battery technology, lower costs that will make them more competitive, and more infrastructure to support them but that is likely to be a couple of decades away from now. I am not too worried because I will either be dead or too old to drive. For now there is not a lot of incentive for most people to switch to EVs especially those who are out of work or those not making a living wage. There are and will still be a lot of old hoopties on the road for the foreseeable future and even the politicians will have to recognize that for those who cannot afford newer vehicles and where mass transit is not a feasible alternative. I have nothing against EVs but it is not feasible to force people into them especially if they lack the resources to buy them.

  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.
  • CEastwood Every time something like this is mentioned it almost never happens because the auto maker is afraid of it taking sales away from an existing model - the Tacoma in this instance . It's why VW never brought the Scirrocco and Polo stateside fearful of losing Golf sales .
  • Bca65698966 V6 Accord owner here. The VTEC crossover is definitely a thing, especially after I got a performance tune for the car. The loss of VTEC will probably result in a slower vehicle overall for one reason: power under the curve. While the peak horsepower may remain the same, the amount of horsepower and torque up to that peak may be less overall. The beauty of variable cam lift is not only the ability to gain more power at upper rpm’s on the “big cam”, but the ability to gain torque down low on the “small cam”. Low rpm torque gets the vehicle moving and then big horsepower at upper rpm’s gains speed. Having only one cam profile is now introducing a compromise versus the VTEC setup. I guess it’s possible that with direct injection they are able to keep the low rpm torque there (I’ve read that DI helps with low rpm torque) but I’m skeptical it will match a well tuned variable lift setup.
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