Groups hail recall of EPA’s federal fuel economy and emissions rules

March 19, 2017 |

In Washington, the High Octane Alliance called the Trump Administration’s recall the fuel economy rule “an important first step in achieving realistic reductions in fuel consumption.”

Alliance Chairman Tom Daschle said the recall was necessary due to the fact the rule, while well intended, was simply rushed through last year without the thorough and comprehensive review that was part of the agreement to require significant increases in fuel economy and reduced emissions. According to Daschle, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rule of 2012 was one of the most forward looking regulatory actions in recent memory and established efficiency requirements out to 2025.

As part of the rule making automakers and EPA, with input from the Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board, agreed to conduct a Midterm Evaluation (MTE) in 2016 to determine if the standards were still “appropriate”.  The evaluation was to have taken place beginning in mid 2016 through 2017 with a final determination to be issued in 2018.  Instead, the evaluation was conducted over a brief three month period and EPA made a determination that the standards could be met.

Daschle said the MTE should have included an assessment of the important role high octane fuels can play in reaching tough new standards.  In comments filed last year and again as the rule was finalized, the Alliance argued that looking at fuels and engines as an integrated system is critical to a realistic assessment of whether the standards were still appropriate.

This is particularly important because some of the basic assumptions that led to such aggressive increases in the requirements have failed to materialize.  Key among those was the predictions of high oil prices that would not only curtail driving and fuel consumption but also the predictions of consumer preference for electric vehicles and smaller cars. While acknowledging that impressive gains have been made in recent years, it is going to be increasingly difficult if not impossible to keep up that pace, he said.

Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen added:

“Today’s actions allow the opportunity for EPA to slow down, remove politics from the process, and take a more comprehensive approach to fuel economy standards. In 2012, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration promulgated final regulations establishing the CAFE and GHG standards for 2017-2025. Included in the final rule was a requirement that the agencies conduct a midterm evaluation (MTE) for the 2022-2025 standards and determine whether the standards established in 2012 were still appropriate in light of the latest available data. The RFA filed extensive comments focused on the role of fuels in enabling more efficient vehicle technologies. By rushing through a cursory review to finalize a rule before the transition, the agency clearly did not fully consider our comments, or the comments of other stakeholders.

“In its MTE, EPA correctly identified technologies that will effectively improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. But they failed to appropriately consider the fuels that will enable those technologies. High octane, low carbon fuels can play a significant role in helping to meet fuel economy targets in the future. That is an omission that must be addressed moving forward if future vehicles can in fact help us address climate change without backsliding on other critical air quality and public health priorities. We look forward to this opportunity, giving EPA a second chance to conduct a more thorough review of fuel economy rules, vehicle technologies, and the fuels that will be necessary to assure success.”

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