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Automakers must not unduly influence next round of greenhouse gas standards for cars and trucks


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson said that her agency would soon begin work on green house gas emissions standards for the 2017 model year.  EPA, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just finished work on standards through model year 2016 on April 1.

In the standards that were just finalized, EPA set standards for five years.  NHTSA is limited to setting standards for only five years at a time.  This limit was part of the negotiations around the 2012-2016 standards, but EPA need not be limited by this in the future. Automakers would like to see this limitation extended.  It is not yet clear what EPA will do.

It’s great news that EPA is starting on the next round of standards now.  Although the agency has until April 2015 to complete the task, getting started now will give the agency time to ask questions and get input about new technology and think ahead.  The auto industry often talks about needing lots of time to adjust to new standards, called “lead time.”  If EPA moves forward with proposed standards before automakers start planning the next design step of vehicles, the agency will have more flexibility to ask for bigger jumps in technology.

Jackson also said that automakers had expressed interest in entering negotiations around the next round of standards. She said that EPA had not entered into such negotiations.

While the standards just finalized were the result of an agreement reached by automakers and federal and state regulators, the agencies must assert their role as regulators in the next round of standards. Automakers should not go to the agency and say, “This is what we are willing to do.” Cooperation and collaboration between the agencies and industry is important in terms of sharing information and having a full and accurate picture of what is achievable. But it is totally unreasonable for the industry to try to control this process.

The agencies have a responsibility to carry out their duties under the law. NHTSA, EPA and state regulators are responsible for establishing standards to reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

Lena Pons is a transportation policy analyst for Public Citizen.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lucy Lee Evans permalink
    05/17/2010 11:05 am

    I applaud Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citzen’s Energy Program, for his condemnation of the Kerry-Lieberman “American Power Act”. Tyson forcefully and accurately said,”It’s not accurate to call this a climate bill. This is nuclear-energy promoting, oil drilling championing, coal mining boosting legislation, with a weak carbon-pricing mechanism thrown in. What’s worse, it guts the Environmental Protection Agency’s current authority to regulate Greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.”

    Enough said? Please call your senators and oppose this terrible bill! Many thanks, Lee Evans, New Canaan, CT

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