European Commission Proposes Legislation Limiting CO2 Emissions From Cars; Fines for Missing the Target
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EPA Denies California Vehicle GHG Waiver; State Will Sue to Overturn Decision

The US Environmental Agency (EPA) today denied the state of California the waiver required to enable the state to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and light trucks. Sixteen other states—Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington—have adopted or are in the process of adopting the California regulations.

In announcing the rejection of the waiver, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said, “The Bush Administration is moving forward with a clear national solution—not a confusing patchwork of state rules—to reduce America’s climate footprint from vehicles. President Bush and Congress have set the bar high, and, when fully implemented, our federal fuel economy standard will achieve significant benefits by applying to all 50 states.

The EPA is relying upon the new CAFE standard of an average 35 mpg by 2020 to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. President Bush signed the CAFE legislation—contained with the larger energy bill—into law today. The California standards call for 205 g CO2/mile for passenger cars (about 43 mpg for a gasoline vehicle) and 332 g/mile for light trucks (about 27 mpg for a gasoline vehicle) by 2016.

The EPA said that California’s current waiver request is distinct from all prior requests, which covered pollutants that predominantly impacted local and regional air quality. The agency asserted that greenhouse gases are fundamentally global in nature, unlike the other air pollutants covered by prior California waiver requests. Since these gases contribute to the challenge of global climate change affecting every state in the union, the EPA argued, according to the criteria in section 209 of the Clean Air Act, it did not find that separate California standards are needed to “meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.”

In reaction, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal the decision and pursue every legal opportunity to obtain the waiver.

While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the President's approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California's vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050.

It has been nearly two years since we requested the waiver and, now, sixteen other states are following our lead to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase fuel efficiency and help reduce harmful greenhouse gases. A ruling from the US Supreme Court earlier this year made it clear that the US EPA has the authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation. We will continue to fight this battle. California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today’s decision and allow Californians to protect our environment.

—Gov. Schwarzenegger

Under the Federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own tougher-than-federal vehicle emission standards, as long as it obtains a waiver from US EPA. Over the past 30 years the US EPA has granted California more than 40 such waivers, denying none.

The original request for a waiver of federal preemption of California's Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards was made by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on December 21, 2005. The waiver, allowing California to enact and enforce emissions standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, was requested after the Air Resources Board developed regulations based on a 2002 California law, AB 1493 by Assemblymember Fran Pavley.

That law required California to establish new standards for motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009. The ARB-adopted regulations will phase in and ramp up over eight years to cut global warming emissions from new vehicles by nearly 30% by model year 2016.

In letters sent on April 10, 2006 and October 24, 2006 to President Bush, the Governor reiterated the urgency of approving California's request to address global warming. On April 25, 2007, 16 months after the original waiver request, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Administrator Johnson informing him of California’s intent to sue after 180 days under the Clean Air Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which provides mechanisms for compelling delayed agency action.

California’s request has been supported by recent judicial decisions.

(A hat-tip to Marcus!)

Comments

Wells

Hey Mark:

A PHEV is more compatable with rooftop photovoltiac solar panel power, ie, 'decentralized' energy, invaluable in an emergency, grid failure or electric utility price gouging.

The battery pack of a PHEV provides a limited driving range, which leads to driving less, and supporting 'local' economic development, local small business, services and institutions that over time become accessable without having to drive.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is far more complex than chemical battery and well-established ICE industries.

PHEV is Small Business. Hydrogen is Big Business.

aussie paul

"Burning a gallon of gasoline releases more or less 19.6 pounds of CO2."

It does I'm afraid.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/co2.shtml

dsl987

Bad wording then. When burned a gallon of gas combines with oxygen to create 19 pounds of CO2, it does not by itself release 19 pounds.

Stan Peterson

Even as you cry and moan about CO2, the IPCC and 21st century Science continues to emasculate GHGs and in particular CO2 assumed power to alter the climate.

By the time of the next IPCC Interim Report, the IPCC has said it will reduce the total effect of CO2 to alter the climate to something close to a few tenths of a single degree per century, instead of tens or hundreds of times stronger. In contrast to the previously feared power, in the primitive Science of the 1970s and 1980s, that is still used in the calculations, for the last time.

Although Mankind couldn't keep up this prodigious heating rate of a tenth of a degree per century, for more than say 10,000 to 20,000 years or so, by then we will have other concerns. We will be worried about the advancing glaciers that will be in danger of burying New York in a mile of ice sheet, and we will be trying to warm the Earth.

Gee, why won't any of you actually read the IPCC scientific Reports, and not just the polemical writings of biased "interpreters"?

I recognize the professional socialists and America-haters have a reason to dismiss any American effort, but all those wonderful EU states run by the "Oh we're so, so, conscious" Greens have succeeded in limiting nothing; and in fact are only succeeding in raising CO2 output in their countries by 21%. While the world as a whole, including China and India raised it 18%.

And the evil USA actually fought CO2 emissions, achieved some conservation and alternatives, while raising CO2 output by under 7%. And that is using the warped, rigged, and ridiculous accounting system that disregards natural re-forestation contributions.

Why shouldn't it count including the natural reforestation? Why shouldn't American capitalism's success in eliminating the inefficient hard-scrabble farms of New England and allowing natural reforestation count? It certainly would if the government had bought the land and turned it into a tree farm. But then it doesn't count even then, by UN's warped accounting.

America now has more official parkland and wilderness land set aside, than what is the territory of the original 13 colonies. Thats right. More than the combined territories of the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Why should only Al Gore's carbon-trading private company tax-dodge, count in the calculations, which it does ??

The fact remains that the wind is generally West to East over North America. Air entering North America from the Pacific has an elevated CO2 level; higher than the air exiting North America into the Atlantic, despite all our contributions of anthropogenic CO2.

In short, a normal accounting, adding the natural sequestration by our choice and restrictions on land use, would indicate that the North American continent already has achieved a below zero, net contribution, to world atmospheric CO2. Why shouldn't we just ... Declare Victory and Quit?

Why shouldn't we say we did our job and finished it before you; We made the difficult and restrictive land use choices to promote all the needed sequestration. All you in the rest of the world, now ...Do Your job?



Herm Perez

I dont know the numbers and I am not going to bother calculating it.. but you can get 19lbs out of 7lbs of gasoline, for every C atom there are 2 O atoms out of the air.. and oxygen is heavy. Basic chemistry

Herm Perez

http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb

The "concensus" that co2 is dangerous is quickly dissipating, it is the responsibility of the president to minimize economic damage to the country (and maximize it to competitors) but being a politician he wants to keep everybody happy.. thus the double talk. 10 years from now no one will care about carbon, once the fad goes away.

It is important to move away from oil, for other reasons..

solarnanohomes

This is another good reason to vote for Ron Paul. Ron Paul wants small government and the states to make their own mandates.

aym

During the Bali Conference, the idea was to put in higher restrictions on GHG than Kyoto. Concern going down? More like going up.

Forestation in temperate areas has a limited effect on global warming according to a carnegie mellon report. They take out carbon but they also absorb more light. Not only that but it is not forestation of an area that wasn't forested before that you are pushing for but areas that already forests.

Fully grown/mature forests ultimately reach a state of homeostasis where the trees are not really growing so that carbon isn't really being taken out, at least not in the huge numbers that governments want to count. And then you have to worry about the fire hazard and consequences.

Ultimately some of the biological carbon will be geologically sequestered, same as our coal and oil deposits, but that is a long term unknown and shouldn't be counted on for short term.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_offset

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/dec/15/ethicalliving.lifeandhealth

Forestation in the US isn't growing but is in fact shrinking from a high in 1963. Before European settlement, the US contained about 4 million square km in 1600. In the high in 63, the US contained 3.08 million km sq. And it has been decreasing ever since.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation

The idea that the air leaving the US contains less CO2 doesn't really make much sense in the overall scheme. If the homeostatic situation vis-a-vis CO2/GHG in the world was a pre industrial US/World then the present situation which has less trees and all the after effects of industrialization has better levels? CO2 levels have been increasing.

The increase in CO2 has been occuring far longer before China or India started to industrialize. Ratios of carbon isotopes point to industrialized used of fossil fuels as the source.

Who has been the largest emmitter historically? What countries have the worst carbon intensities? How about ratios of population to emmission? Do you think that countries where the majority of the population lives on less than a dollar/day per person should shoulder the costs, when others who have a better ability to pay for the necessary changes and who have done most of the damage to this point refuse to do so?

Gene

Problem: Fossil fuel price going up and pollution.

Solution: American ingenuity.

Reason: Money to be made. Period.

Andrey

Aym:

Forested area in US was stable over all 20 century, +- 2%. Difference between peak of 308 mln acres in 1963 and 302 mln. acres in 1997 is 2%. However, total biomass of forests is growing quite substantially, thanks to carbon fertilization. According to US forest service, over last 50 years mass of standing timber increased by 45%, and continue to increase at stable 1% per year. According to US DOE, about 15% of total US carbon dioxide emissions are offset by growing forest biomass. The process will continue as long as atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will increase.

Andrey

Sorry, make it ga instead of acre.

Rafael Seidl

This is a classic power struggle between federal and states' rights. EPA is just caught in the middle because this whole dispute about energy policy is awkwardly couched in terms of the Clean Air Act. If California prevails, the shape of the US auto market will largely be defined in Sacramento, rather than in Washington D.C., because so many populous and affluent states have signed on to California's effort. Arguably, a single national policy would be preferable to two, since market balkanization tends to drive up prices.

If Pres. Bush hadn't resisted tougher CAFE regulations when he last updated them several years ago, California might never have embarked on this legal course of action. Now, backing down would cause either side to lose face, so Pres. Bush is looking to run out the clock.

aym

Andrey,
min acres? ga?

A large portion of the standing timber from the last 50 years isn't from carbon fertilization which has debatable long term effects on the forest
(ie. http://www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/get_press_release.cfm?ReleaseNumber=mr20040219-00)

but more on past forestry practices, where fire was suppressed. The problem is that there is no guarantee on what occurs with that cover. The fires of the US southwest are an example of that. According to the chief of fire operations for the federal government in 60 minutes, mega fires the size of which have been rare in the past are now common. Part of the cause is the amount of cover created by suppressed fires over the years.

This leads me to conclude that there lies a limitation to ability of mature forests to sequester ever larger amounts of CO2, which we are presently near.

Would like to see the source of mass of standing timber figures.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/18/60minutes/main3380176.shtml

US forestry use and projections to 2050. According to this forested area will decrease 3-4% by 2050 for both public and private areas.
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/gtr587.pdf

Andrey

Aym:

It is ga.

Trees are the most responsive among plants to carbon fertilization, especially where their growth is moisture limited. Of course, their carbon sequestration effect is short-lived (except for small portion of biomass in deep roots and converted to soil in forest floor).

For standing timber and further about carbon fertilization take a look at Fig.21-24 here:

http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/gwreview_oism150.pdf

For more details take a look here:

http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/subject/f/forests.jsp

Also very interesting article about world’s forests (do you know that forests in China are expanding?!):

http://www.helsinki.fi/press/forestidentity.shtml

sszushi

Complying with one set of regulations rather than two results in lower R&D and manufacturing costs which leads to lower product costs; vehicle and engine manufacturers offering for sale their products to a national consumer base should be subject to one national emission standard, be it smog-forming emissions or GHG emissions. The regulatory agency may set forth vehicle-specific gradations of cleanliness in their standards so consumers can choose a vehicle based on that vehicle's emission level. In fact the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has its "Bin" standards, and the California EPA (CalEPA) has its LEV, ULEV,and SULEV standards.

State and local jurisdictions which have a compelling interest to reduce emissions within their localities may enact other means to shape their constituents usage behavior. For example, Wells suggested a higher gasoline tax. Another example, vehicle registration fees could be based on vehicle weight, certified emission standard and/or CAFE rating.

With one national emission standard, a benefit to the consumer is he will not inadvertently purchase a non-compliant vehicle for his state (a real occurrence with the advent of on-line shopping.) A benefit to the [California] taxpayer is paying for one, rather than two air pollution regulatory agency.

litesong

Andrey & I fought it out on his land carving strategy for the American west some time ago. Any idea Andrey puts forward taking advantage of the great work of Gifford Pinchot who halted the rape of 19th century American forests (his greatness measured by semi-stable forests in the 20th century) must be opposed.

Also, Stan's carbon dioxide credits as applied to forests & other skeptical applications, in a much larger sense, were shown by poorer nations at Bali to be neo-rape tactics by industrial nations. Big companies with fast talking PR agencies mounting misshapen ecological policies must stop colonial efforts to further entrap poor countries.

sjc

To me, anything that comes out of a car's tailpipe that would not otherwise be there can be considered a pollutant. That would include water vapor, if that were shown to cause harm. If you do not want to do anything about it, that is your choice. But if you want to do something about it, that is your choice too.

We should be building the cleanest cars practically possible for all 50 states and the rest of the world. You could argue that some states and countries can not afford clean cars, but we all breath the same air and are subject to the same severe weather patterns brought on by global warming.

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