By on December 1, 2020

The Ford Motor Company is asking automakers to join it in supporting Californian vehicle emissions targets aimed at supplanting the rollback that was supposed to become the national standard. General Motors has already abandoned its support of the Trump rollbacks, which offered concessions to appease environmental groups but ultimately targeted more lax fueling regulation while seeking to eliminate California’s ability to self regulate as a way to curb its influence. But industry leaders are under the impression that a President Biden would attempt to swiftly transmission back to Obama-era regulatory targets or simply adopt the California model that’s been at odds with the national standards established by the Trump administration.

Considering how aggressive the Biden-Harris energy/environmentalism platform is, it certainly seems a plausible scenario and certain automotive executives feel that it would be best to go into 2021 aligned and supportive. The matter is even scheduled to be brought forward during Tuesday’s virtual auto trade association meeting.

(Read More…)

By on November 24, 2020

General Motors has changed its mind on backing the Trump administration’s effort to supplant Obama-era emission regulations with something more manageable and prohibit California from setting its own emissions rules. Of course, the coastal rules aren’t really just for California — it desperately wants to export them to the rest of the country and has made rather incredible headway for not being the federal government. The coastal region has already convinced over 20 states to follow in its footsteps and even amassed support from auto manufacturers like BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen Group.

Other automakers, including General Motors, felt the Trump plan would give them more flexibility and undoubtedly make them less subject to government fines. However, with a Biden presidency assured without Trump and Co. having an extremely powerful voter fraud case, GM has become a turncoat. On Monday, CEO Mary Barra issued a letter to environmental groups stating that her company is “immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”

GM now wants to work with Joe Biden — probably because the company understands his administration is going to be regulating the snot out of the nation.

(Read More…)

By on November 13, 2020

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.

(Read More…)

By on November 11, 2020

Joe Biden. Shutterstock user lev radin

With America currently split between people arguing about how seriously the 2020 election needs to be investigated, there hasn’t been much in the news about cars beyond the omnipresent background hiss of manufacturers promoting green vehicles they have yet to build. That leaves us having to belly crawl through journalistic muck in the hopes of finding a morsel of useful information. Fortunately, we located a crumb worth saving in Joe Biden’s transition teams for the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department.

A Biden administration means bringing back Obama all-stars in a concentrated effort to restore that era’s regulatory standards. That entails flipping just about every single initiative launched by President Trump, including the national fuel rollback that’s at the heart of the Gas War. Biden has also said he would reenter the Paris Climate Accords, gradually abandon fossil fuels, and “establish ambitious fuel economy standards” surpassing anything the nation has seen before.

(Read More…)

By on August 18, 2020

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) made a slew of announcements on Monday regarding what types of vehicles will be allowed within the confines of its borders. These included everything from proclaiming aftermarket parts would be subject to a faster approval (or denial) process in the future, to announcing a joint initiative with 15 other states (most of whom joined CA in opposing the fuel efficiency rollback), to accelerating the implementation of electrified buses and trucks.

It also confirmed that California has finalized binding agreements with several automakers to cut vehicle emissions. BMW, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., and Volkswagen Group all entered into a voluntary agreement with the Golden State to adhere to Obama-era emission mandates last summer. While this prompted the U.S. Justice Department to launch an antitrust investigation into the deal, no action was taken. CARB said those companies — and some of their friends  made a binding commitment to California this month and will commit to its new emission targets, rather than the revised quotas set by the federal government. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

Following requests from Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) for a formal investigation into whether the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules proposed by the Trump administration violates the Clean Air Act (or some currently undetermined regulatory requirement that might stop it from coming to fruition), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said it will indeed evaluate the emissions rollback.

As the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper’s opposition to the fuel rollback is to be expected. With politicians unwilling to find common ground and engage in good-faith discussions that might result in some amount of compromise in service to the people, opposition tactics have devolved into partisan lawsuits and trying to halt the new rules over technicalities. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2020

On Monday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that his state will embrace California-crafted emissions rules that are at odds with the national rollback finalized by the Trump administration in March.

Officially, Sisolak said the rules would not require residents to abandon their current ride “or choose one that does not work for their lifestyle or business needs.” Nevada has, however, decided to adopt higher mpg standards, as well as the Golden State’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rules that require manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric or plug-in hybrid models each year based on the total number of vehicles sold within the state.

Companies in compliance accrue ZEV credits, which can then be traded or sold to other manufacturers for money. As with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) system, those that cannot hit their targets (or afford to buy up credits) will be fined. Tesla actually used such arrangements to make $594 million off its rivals in 2019, with the prospect of things only getting more lucrative for the all-electric brand.  (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2020

Following America’s fueling feud has shown your author that it’s less about finding a reasonable compromise that works for consumers, the automotive industry, and environmental activists, and more about perpetuating ideological wars that now seem to surround every topic filtered through the news media.

Encouraged by industry leaders just days after taking office, President Donald Trump made the fuel economy rollback one of his first initiatives. It wasn’t until March that the softened final draft emerged, however, and it won’t be enough to conclude the almost four-year battle. A collection of 23 states filed suit against the Trump administration’s easing of emissions standards on Wednesday. They argue that the rollback is illegal and based on bunk information.

While we’ve also been suspect of some of the metrics used to make the rollback look more desirable, fueling standards haven’t adhered to reality in some time. The Obama-era standards that would have seen Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rise to 54 mpg by 2025 were deemed unsustainable by that administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but were put into play anyway.  (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?
(Read More…)

By on March 31, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their final version of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rules on Tuesday. This will establish new targets for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and emissions standards for passenger vehicles from the 2021-2026 model years and just in the nick of time. The document had to be completed by April 1st, in order to leave sufficient time for the coming model year.

If you’ve been following the long and arduous process that brought us here, you’ll notice the document has changed slightly from previous drafts. The rollback still enacts the straightening of emission regulations but reels them back from the lofty goals set by the Obama administration. Annual increases in fuel efficiency standards will be set at 1.5 percent through 2026. Previous drafts had the Trump administration freezing efficiency requirements at 2020 levels.  (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2020

The United States Department of Justice has ended its investigation into Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW over a presumed antitrust violation stemming from a deal they made with California to adhere to regional emission rules. Their agreement technically circumvents the current administration’s plan to freeze national emissions and fuel economy standards — established while President Obama was still in office — at 2021 levels through 2026. Under the California deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and gas mileage requirements that are more stringent than the federal standards suggested in the rollback proposal.

But the probe also looked like retaliation from the Trump administration against automakers publicly siding with the state causing the most trouble in the gas war. Under the deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and economy requirements that are tougher than proposed federal standards. Despite the corporate promise being as empty as an Oscar speech, it was still an affront to the current administration’s efforts to tamp down lofty efficiency targets put in place just days before it came into power.

While the Justice Department hasn’t explicitly said why it closed the investigation, it’s presumed that it simply didn’t find anything that it felt violated antitrust laws. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, stating that the “trumped-up charges were always a sham, a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards.” (Read More…)

By on January 2, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is once again applying pressure on the Trump administration’s proposed fuel economy rollback. Similar to the complaints issued by a coalition of scientists back in March of 2018, the board expressed concerns that significant weaknesses exist in the analysis underpinning the plan that should be addressed before any rules are made final. A draft report was circulated earlier in the week, with the SAB scheduling a public meeting meeting on January 17th.

“[The] EPA always appreciates and respects the work and advice of the SAB,” the U.S. regulatory agency said in a statement. “When implemented, the [rollback] will benefit all Americans by improving the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, reducing air pollution, and making new vehicles more affordable for all Americans.”

(Read More…)

By on November 1, 2019

One of the issues underpinning the gas war has been an inability for either side to compromise. Initially, it was the current administration complaining about California wanting special treatment. But the coastal state was quick to return fire, claiming that the White House never offered a valid compromise.

Eventually California extended an olive branch by suggesting it would postpone existing fuel economy mandates by one year, while attempting to lock automakers in via written commitments. But federal regulators said a singular national standard was needed, suggesting California had overstepped its authority by trying to rope in manufacturers.

However, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler came back this fall with claims of a revised plan that could actually be more stringent than originally presumed. While still a rollback, the new draft was said to close several loopholes the industry could use to continue their polluting ways. “In some of the out years, we’re actually more restrictive on CO2 emissions than the Obama proposal was,” Wheeler said.

New reports now suggest the EPA’s words are more than just noise. (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2019

Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co, BMW Group and Volkswagen AG announced a voluntary deal with California in July — drawing a line in the sand for who they’ll be supporting in the fueling fracas taking place between the Golden State and White House. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s rollback proposal — which intends on freezing automotive emission standards at 2020 levels through 2026 — saw no such support. But the cavalry seems to have finally arrived after sitting on the sidelines during the battle’s opening maneuvers.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Kia, and Subaru all sided against California in a filing with a U.S. appeals court from Monday night. While they’re not setting any economy targets, they are collectively firm on the issue of the state’s ability to self regulate. A large portion of the industry wants a single national standard, not individual states setting their own benchmarks while they attempt to catch up with product.  (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2019

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom responded to a new report claiming oil companies have been overcharging customers over social media.

“[California] drivers have paid an average of 30 cents more per gallon. There’s no identifiable evidence to justify that,” Newsom said. “I’m demanding an investigation. If oil companies are engaging in false advertising or price fixing — legal action should be taken.”

With California leading the charge against the federal government’s proposed fuel economy rollback, Newsom’s words are a bit of a faux pas. While we agree that companies should not be engaging in price fixing, California’s high fuel prices are largely its own doing. Newsom’s claims completely ignore this rather obvious fact — calling his ability to effectively negotiate the national fueling fracas into question.  (Read More…)

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