The US Environmental Agency (EPA) has granted California’s waiver request enabling the state to enforce its greenhouse gas emissions standards (Pavley I) for new motor vehicles, beginning with the current model year. According to evidence submitted by California during the waiver process, an EPA official said, automakers are currently already in compliance with the MY2009 Pavley requirement, and are tracking to compliance for 2010.
In September 2004 the California Air Resources Board (ARB) passed regulations to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) from new passenger vehicles starting in 2009. These regulations were authorized by the 2002 legislation Assembly Bill 1493 (Pavley). California requested from EPA the waiver required for implementation of the Pavley regulations in December 2005. The request was subsequently denied in December 2007.
This previous decision was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act finding that California did not have a need for its greenhouse gas emission standards to meet “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” (Earlier post.)
Shortly after taking office in January, President Barack Obama directed EPA to assess the appropriateness of denying the waiver. EPA received a letter from California on January 21, 2009, raising several issues for Administrator Jackson to review regarding the denial.
This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law. This waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it’s been used for the last 40 years and supports the prerogatives of the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have opted to follow California’s lead. More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year.—EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
In granting the California waiver, EPA found that California continues to have a need for its motor vehicle emissions program, including the greenhouse gas standards. EPA also found that the California program meets legal requirements regarding the protectiveness of public health and welfare as well as technological feasibility.
Last month, President Obama announced a national policy of two harmonized standards, one for increasing fuel economy (to be issued by NHTSA) and the second for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (to be issued by EPA) for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. The resulting new national standards will cover model years 2012-2016, and will require an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016 (39 mpg for cars, 30 mpg for trucks), or approximately 250 grams CO2/mile. The CAFE program established by the EISA 2007 legislation specified a minimum 35 mpg in 2020. However, there will not be an exact one-to-one correspondence between the two standards—GHG and fuel economy—which will be the foundation of the national program.
When the national program for 2012-2106 takes effect, California has committed to allowing automakers who show compliance with the national program to also be deemed in compliance with state requirements. (Earlier post.) In other words, California is deeming meeting the upcoming Federal requirements for 2012-2016 as an alternate Pavley compliance path for automakers.
The 2016 endpoint of the two standards—Pavley I and the new national standard—are essentially the same, although the national standard is using an attribute-based approach (consistent with the new CAFE), while California’s standard used the older approach of two vehicle types (PC/LDT1 and LDT2) used in the LEV II regulations. The national program ramps up slightly more slowly than the California program envisioned, but does get to the same fleet average endpoint. Using the projected California fleet mix, ARB calculates the average emissions form the MY2016 new vehicle fleet will be approximately 243 g/mi (or about 36.6 mpg US).
On a conference call on Tuesday, EPA officials said they expected to release the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the vehicle greenhouse gas regulations later this year.
Thirteen other states have adopted California’s Clean Car standards: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
California is preserving its right to establish more stringent standards in the future. The Pavley II regulations, which start with the 2017 model year, will come to the Air Resources Board for consideration in 2010. Adapting those would require the request and issuance of another EPA waiver.