EPA and DOT recently proposed rules to implement the Obama Administration’s May announcement that federal standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles would be set to “harmonize” with California’s groundbreaking greenhouse gas standards by 2016. The proposal is worth celebrating, not only because it will deliver by far the biggest vehicle efficiency improvements in decades, but also because the introduction of EPA into the process makes it more likely that the standards will accelerate the development of efficiency technologies in the future. Plus, California retains its authority to set its own standards after 2016, and thus can continue to lead the way in this area.
The agencies’ proposal could nonetheless use some strengthening in the final rule, as ACEEE pointed out in testimony October 23. One disconcerting feature of the proposal is the agencies’ nod to outmoded thinking about adverse consumer welfare impacts of fuel efficiency standards due to their influence on the vehicle market. That the standards will help bring to market highly desirable vehicles that automakers have not yet seen fit to develop goes unmentioned. Beyond dispute is that consumers’ savings at the pump will far outweigh the cost of the technologies required to meet the new standards with enough left over, in fact, to offset the added price at the pump associated with the cap-and-trade program contained in the House and Senate climate bills. Tell that to the American Petroleum Institute!
Read ACEEE’s white paper on net savings from climate policies for light-duty vehicles.