Automakers Support Obama Administration’s Development of National Program for Reducing Carbon Emissions and Fuel Consumption
The US auto industry, via the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is lining up to support a new national, harmonized program to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption that President Obama will announce on Tuesday, 19 May.
EPA and NHTSA will initiate a joint rulemaking that reflects a coordinated and harmonized approach to implementing the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The rulemaking is expected to include several elements important to automakers, including:
Preserving Vehicle Diversity: Harmonized NHTSA and EPA standards would be attribute-based, or based on a vehicle’s footprint. This approach allows for a range of sizes of vehicles to meet consumer needs for passenger and cargo room.
Providing Certainty for Long-term Planning: Automakers would know what standards will be through 2016, which is critical in an industry where bringing a product to market typically takes 5-7 years. The National Program is intended to give automakers sufficient lead-time to incorporate technology as part of existing vehicle design schedules, so manufacturers would not have to incur added costs from redesigning all their models at one time.
Providing Flexibility in Achieving CO2-Reduction Goals: EPA and NHTSA would consider a range of compliance flexibility measures, such as earned credits, credit trading, air conditioning credits, and credits for using additional technologies that reduce carbon dioxide (CO2).
A national program is a priority to automakers because a national fuel economy program allows manufacturers to average sales nationwide, avoids conflicting standards from different regulatory agencies, and gives automakers much needed certainty for long-term product planning. (Earlier post.)
For seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the federal government should regulate autos. President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate by starting a federal rulemaking to set a National Program. What’s significant about the announcement is it launches a new beginning, an era of cooperation. The President has succeeded in bringing three regulatory bodies, 15 states, a dozen automakers and many environmental groups to the table. We’re all agreeing to work together on a National Program.—Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
In addition, said the Alliance, a national program delivers overall greenhouse gas reductions equal to or better than those that would be realized under separate programs by different regulatory bodies.
The debate over who sets CO2 and fuel economy standards for autos has been decided, but there is still more to talk about. We have the broad outlines of an agreement, but we will need to work closely with NHTSA, EPA and California in the rulemaking process to resolve multiple issues, trying to fit all the elements together into one program. There is a strong commitment from everyone to move past any hurdles that may arise as we work through differences in the way these two federal agencies set standards
We want to finalize a national program so we can move on to policy discussions on what the future of sustainable mobility looks like and how we can get there faster. Alliance members are supporting measures that reduce carbon dioxide even more, like low carbon fuels, advancements in battery technology and consumer incentives to get more advanced technology autos on our roads.—Dave McCurdy
Autos represent 17% of all anthropogenic CO2 in the US, according to EPA.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.