US regulator to cut ‘high’ vehicle emissions standards

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to row back on previously agreed standards to reduce emissions from new vehicles.

This follows a mid-term review of the light duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) standards, which had been agreed under the Obama administration in 2012, and outline emissions and fuel efficiency targets for car makers up to 2025.

Headquarters of the US Environment Protection Agency in Washington DC

According to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the standards which cover light-duty vehicles including cars and vans, and set targets for vehicles to achieve a 50 miles per gallon by 2025 target, ‘are not appropriate’ and may be ‘too stringent’.

Commenting on the standards this week, he said: “The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong. Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

EPA has yet to reveal what future standards will apply, but has stated that it will being a joint process with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop ‘more appropriate’ emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Clean Air Act

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants.

Regulators in California were granted a waiver by the EPA to impose their own, stricter standards, for vehicle emissions.

However, EPA has questioned the autonomy granted to California to set its own emissions standards — and may seek to bring the State in line with other parts of the country.

Mr Pruitt added: “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford – while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars.

“It is in America’s best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard.”


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