09/27/2017 - Regulatory Rollback

Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards / Greenhouse Gas Standards

by EELP Staff

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following. If you’re a reporter and would like to speak with an expert on this rule, please email us.

Why it Matters

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Department of Transportation (DOT) has set fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks since 1975. In a separate but related process, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued greenhouse gas emission standards since in 2010. Transportation is the one of the largest greenhouse gas sources in the US, contributing more than one-quarter of all emissions. Improving the fuel economy of cars saves gas money and lowers emissions; a roll-back of standards increases fuel costs and pollution.

Current Status

Aug. 2, 2018 EPA and NHTSA release new proposed standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy. The agencies propose maintaining the CAFE and CO2 standards applicable in model year 2020 for model years 2021-2026. The agencies propose withdrawing the permission granted to California to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards, which a dozen other states also use.

Aug. 24, 2018 The Federal Register publishes the Trump administration’s proposed fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The comment period is open through Oct. 23, 2018, and people can comment on a wide range of alternatives, including retaining existing CO2 standards and CAFE standards.

Sep. 24–26, 2018 NHTSA and EPA jointly holds three public hearings on the proposed standards: Sep. 24 in Fresno, California; Sep. 25 in Dearborn, Michigan; Sep. 26 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jan. 16, 2019 Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler says that the final rule will increase fuel efficiency standards for vehicles by 0.5% a year during his Senate confirmation hearing.

History

Oct. 15, 2012 EPA publishes a final rule setting greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars, for model years 2017-2025, and NHTSA set fuel economy standards for 2017-2021 and forecast standards for 2022-2025.

Jan. 12, 2017 EPA Administrator McCarthy determines in a “midterm evaluation” that the 2022-2025 greenhouse gas standards remain appropriate and should not change.

Trump Era

March 13, 2017 The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers petition for review of EPA’s evaluation of greenhouse gas standards in the D.C. Circuit.

March 20, 2017 The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers withdraws its petition.

March 22, 2017 EPA publishes notice of its intent to reconsider the midterm evaluation of greenhouse gas standards. EPA states it will make a new determination by April 1, 2018.

July 26, 2017 NHTSA publishes a notice of intent to conduct an environmental impact statement, a preliminary step toward setting 2022-2025 CAFE standards.

Aug. 21, 2017 EPA opens a comment period for the reconsideration of the midterm evaluation for the 2022-2025 greenhouse gas standards. The comment period is open until Oct. 5, 2017.

April 2, 2018 EPA announces it has completed the midterm evaluation for light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards and concluded that the standards were too stringent. EPA is committed to issuing less stringent standards.

May 1, 2018 A coalition of states and the District of Columbia sue EPA over its plans to lower emissions standards. According to HLS Professor Jody Freeman, “This is a preliminary challenge. It’s a shot across the bow. It sets the table to challenge the agency’s reasons for rolling back the rule, if they go ahead and do it.”

May 3, 2018 A coalition of utilities and the automaker Tesla sue EPA over the planned standards rollback 

May 7, 2018 The California Air Resources Board (CARB) issues a request for public input while it considers “options to best ensure that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission benefits in California from the current national program and California’s light-duty vehicle GHG regulation are maintained.” This proposal would allow California to “only accept cars that meet the Obama-era rules, in case the Trump administration rolls those back.”

May 16, 2018 coalition of environmental groups sues EPA, challenging its decision to withdraw the Final Determination, issued Jan. 12, 2017, for the Mid-term Evaluation of greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles, finding the standards appropriate. The EPA then issues a new Final Determination finding the standards “not appropriate” and re-opening the standard-setting process.

May 30, 2018 NHTSA sends its proposed rule to set revised fuel economy standards to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

May 31, 2018 EPA sends its proposed rule to revise greenhouse gas emissions standards to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

Aug. 2, 2018 EPA and NHTSA release new proposed standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy. The agencies propose maintaining the CAFE and CO2 standards applicable in model year 2020 for model years 2021-2026. The agencies propose withdrawing the permission granted to California to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards, which a dozen other states also use.

Aug. 24, 2018 The Federal Register publishes the Trump administration’s proposed fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The comment period is open through Oct. 23, 2018, and people can comment on a wide range of alternatives, including retaining existing CO2 standards and CAFE standards.

Sep. 24–26, 2018 NHTSA and EPA jointly holds three public hearings on the proposed standards: Sep. 24 in Fresno, California; Sep. 25 in Dearborn, Michigan; Sep. 26 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The hearings start at 10 a.m. local time and continue until 5 p.m. or until everyone has had a chance to speak.

Aug. 8, 2018 the the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposes its own rule change in order to maintain Obama-era emissions for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2021-2025. The California rule change stipulates that California will accept an emissions test covering both federal and state standards, but only if the federal standards are not weaker than California’s standards.

Aug. 29, 2018 the coalition of environmental groups files a brief in opposition to the Trump Administration’s request to dismiss their lawsuit challenging the EPA’s withdrawal of Final Determination of the Mid-term Evaluation.

Oct. 23, 2018 the comment period for the proposed rules closes. Submitted comments may be viewed on regulations.gov.

Nov. 21, 2018 the D.C. Circuit denies the EPA’s request to dismiss a May 2018 lawsuit challenging the EPA’s final determination on rolling back CAFE standards.  The EPA’s request suggested the final determination was not subject to review by the courts. The dismissal means the D.C. Circuit will move forward with its review of the final determination.

Jan. 16, 2019 Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler says that the final rule will increase fuel efficiency standards for vehicles by 0.5% a year during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Feb. 5, 2019 Representative Doris Matsui of California introduces legislation to codify the Obama-era clean car standards, protecting them from rollback. The “Clean and Efficient Cars Act” would codify the greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for model years 2021 to 2025.

For More Information

See Save EPA’s pages on CAFE standards and greenhouse gas standards.