Chrome exhaust pipeEnlarge Photo
On August 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would reopen the Comment Period for the vehicle-emission standards for model years 2022 through 2025 it had finalized in January.
The auto industry and its lobbyists had complained that the agency had moved too quickly, despite its issuance last summer of a voluminous Technical Assessment Report that detailed the analyses, modeling, comments, and science behind the decision.
Nonetheless, President Trump's appointment of climate-science denier and fossil-fuel advocate Scott Pruitt to run the EPA all but guaranteed those standards would be revisited.
But when the Midterm Evaluation of greenhouse-gas emission standards for vehicles was officially reopened on August 10, a funny thing happened.
The period for public comments was not reopened.
More than two weeks later, comments can now be received by the agency on its proposed reconsideration of finalized rules to cut vehicular emissions of carbon dioxide, a climate-change gas.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]Enlarge Photo
Members of the public can now comment on the reopening of the standards through a link on the Regulations.gov website.
It's worth noting, by the way, that not only are the 2022-2025 standards under review, so are the rules for model-year 2021—a concession the auto industry had not sought and one that goes above and beyond what was expected.
The Environmental Protection Agency itself has comprehensive information on the Midterm Evaluation process on its own website, including the history of the agency's prior determination.
A public hearing on the proposed greenhouse-gas emission limits will also be held on September 6th, in Washington, D.C. That hearing was announced on August 23 via a notice in the Federal Register.
Unfortunately, the published notice contained a typographic error in the e-mail address to be used by members of the public who wished to testify at the public hearing.
The correct address is: Hearing_Registration-ASD (at) epa (dot) gov.
U.S. Capitol BuildingEnlarge Photo
EPA emission limits vs NHTSA CAFE rules
While the EPA sets limits on the emissions of road vehicles, fuel-economy rules for those same vehicles are set by a different agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Those two sets of standards operated independently until 2012, when the EPA's regulation of carbon dioxide required the two sets of standards to align, since CO2 emissions are directly proportional to fuel consumed.
NHTSA regulations operate on a different schedule than EPA rules, so the agency hadn't yet finalized its 2022-2025 corporate average fuel economy rules when Trump took office.
Under Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao, the agency has indicated that it could freeze CAFE standards for 2022-2025 at 2021 levels.
Elaine ChaoEnlarge Photo
It will also assess rolling back the 2021 CAFE requirements, allowing vehicles to consume more gasoline and diesel fuel than they are now allowed to.
The commenting and approval process for the NHTSA CAFE rules has not yet begun.
Green Car Reports respectfully reminds its readers that the scientific validity of climate change is not a topic for debate in our comments. We ask that any comments by climate-change denialists be flagged for moderation. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our comments on topic, civil, respectful, family-friendly, and fact-based.