President Trump's deregulation agenda, which has reversed the safeguards that protect air and water, harms public health and threatens our climate's capacity to sustain human civilization. But Actually, there may be a good reason to get rid of a regulation focused on improving the vehicle's fuel efficiency.
Miami traffic on Route 95 North
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As the scope of the decarbonization challenge is seen, the United States urgently needs to take firmer measures on climate change. But a law that is no longer up to the task is a key provision of the Energy Conservation and Policy Act (EPCA) that sets federal fuel-saving standards.
Not only is the law insufficient, but Trump has contorted it in an illegitimate way to attack states that seek to reduce greenhouse gases. Trump has contorted it illegitimately to attack states that seek to reduce greenhouse gases. (GHG) and air pollution. The Clean Air Act (CAA) offers a much stronger alternative that protects Americans from air pollution and enshrines the rights of states to protect the health and well-being of their citizens.
How the first fuel economy standard of EE. UU It became a ditch
EPCA was born in the mid-1970s because of Jimmy Carter's search for energy efficiency following an Arab oil embargo that boosted gas prices nationwide. The law established the first federal fuel economy standards for vehicles, designed to reduce dependence on oil imports.
But EPCA soon showed its flaws. In 1985, with low gas prices, Congress froze fuel economy standards, which then stagnated for decades. EPCA did not provide a rigorous path to improve fuel efficiency until 2007, when the US. UU They once again faced gasoline prices, and Congress was forced to address the failure of the EPCA by modifying and establishing stricter fuel economy standards.
Now, the Trump administration is using this flawed law to pursue its clean air attack and policies to limit GHGs. As part of its proposal to reverse Obama's historic GHG standards that would have reduced carbon pollution by 50% and doubled fuel economy standards to 54.5 MPG by 2025, the administration is cynically using EPCA by wrongly stating that it prevents The states brake the exhaust pipe of a motor vehicle emissions. However, for more than half a century, federal law has recognized the authority of states to protect their people from pollution.
President Donald J. Trump sits in the driver's seat of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truck drivers and truck general managers.
Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
A regulatory reduction would actually reduce emissions in five ways
As forward-looking federal politicians weigh the best way forward in substantive climate action, they should consider a relatively simple solution to reduce GHG emissions from transportation, the fastest growing source of climate pollution in the world. USA UU The fuel economy provision of 44-year old EPCA vehicles must be modified, if not repealed, and the nation must invest its efforts to restrict emissions by preserving and implementing the existing CAA.
Getting rid of fuel economy standards will help combat climate change in several ways. According to the CAA, all GHG contaminants can be regulated if they endanger public health and the environment, based on a Supreme Court ruling of 2007. Since both gasoline and diesel produce carbon dioxide (CO2) ), actions to reduce CO2 emissions also result in higher fuel economy standards.
The CAA has also given California the power to set its own emission standards for motor vehicles since 1967. California became the world's innovation laboratory for reducing emissions. And later, this historic law was strengthened to give all states the right to adopt California's clean vehicle standards, which 13 states and the District of Columbia, representing 40% of the US population, have done. . UU
Electric vehicle in charging station.
According to the CAA, available clean technologies, such as electric vehicles that reduce GHG emissions and other pollutants, can be taken into account when setting emission standards. EPCA, on the other hand, limits the consideration of zero emission vehicles. Paradoxically, EPCA encourages car manufacturers to manufacture larger and heavier vehicles that reduce fuel economy.
The CAA does not limit the time frame for the standards. For example, the current set of GHG laws in force in the CAA model covers the years 2012 to 2025, which provides automakers with stability planning for long-term investments. But the EPCA limits the standards to a five-year horizon. In fact, EPCA does not require further improvements in fuel savings beyond 2030.
The CAA prohibits the sale of non-conforming vehicles through very large fines that address the damages and deter noncompliance. Meanwhile, EPCA's sanctions are so weak that for years premium car manufacturers have paid the minimum fare instead of investing in improving fuel economy.
An obsolete regulation on fuel savings that is ready for the scrap heap
The CAA is a proven success. While mileage standards remained stagnant for more than half of EPCA's existence, the CAA has helped reduce car pollution by 99% since the 1960s, has generated savings of $ 2 trillion and it avoids hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually.
It is time for Congress to reconsider the EPCA. The Supreme Court ruled that the responsibility of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to protect public health and welfare under the AAC is "totally independent" from EPCA's mandate to promote energy efficiency. But Trump is now subverting EPCA, endangering millions of people through exposure to air pollution. We no longer need the fuel saving provisions according to the EPCA, and the US. UU They must invest their energy in defending and protecting the rights of Americans and states to a cleaner and healthier air under the AAC.
So, while waste disposal regulations are rarely the correct way to reduce pollution, in this case, there is a good reason to park EPCA fuel economy provisions and put the pedal on the metal in the AAC.
Margo Oge served as director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1994-2012 and is the author of "Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner and Smarter Vehicles."