Auto Alliance urges EPA to withdraw premature Final Determination on light-duty GHG regulations, resume Midterm Evaluation process with NHTSA
The Auto Alliance has sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the US Environmental Protection Agency withdraw the Final Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards under the Midterm Evaluation which EPA announced on 13 January 2017. (Earlier post.)
It its letter, the Alliance argues that by rushing to issue the Final Determination (which maintains the current GHG standards as defined through 2025) in January 2017, EPA abrogated its commitment to a robust Midterm Evaluation of the standards in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is conducting its own midterm review of the fuel economy standards through 2025. Furthermore, the Alliance argues, EPA never published the final rules in the Federal Register. The Alliance is not arguing for a rollback of standards; instead, it is arguing for a resumption of the original Midterm Evaluation timetable (to which NHTSA appears to be adhering), that would result in findings by April 2018.
This request by the Alliance echoes a similar, earlier request by Global Automakers, the trade association representing the US divisions of 12 international automakers (Aston Martin, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota). (Earlier post.)
The Auto Alliance represents 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, including the BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA.
Background. In 2009, EPA issued an Endangerment Finding that vehicle greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, and thus threaten public health and welfare. In 2012, EPA and NHTSA set joint greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards over a decade in advance for MY 2022-2025.
This was notable for several reasons, one being the new standards on greenhouse gas emissions, the other being that no agency had yet set emission standards so far into the future.
Because of the obvious uncertainties this entailed, EPA and NHTSA agreed to a Midterm Evaluation that would review the standards by April 2018. The agencies at the time said that the review would be collaborative, and developed in tandem. Both indicated that they would note complete a proposed rulemaking until mid-2017 at the earliest.
According to the Alliance, which supported the rulemaking with the proviso of the Midterm Evaluation, the auto industry commissioned a number of studies assessing the MY 2022-205 standards and the EPA processes that it intended to add to the administrative record as part of the collaborative Midterm Evaluation process this year.
However, in November 2016, EPA issued a proposed determination maintaining the current standards without modification. EPA issued the determination without coordination with NHTSA. Thence, EPA issued the Final Determination 14 days after the comment period (which was only 24 days and spanning the holiday period) closed.
The Final Determination is the product of egregious procedural and substantive defects and EPA should withdraw it. In EPA’s rush to promulgate the Final Determination before the new administration took office, EPA bypassed required procedures, failing for instance to provide an adequate period for meaningful notice and comment.
The Final Determination asserts that there was no need for more time because the Proposed Determination did not include much new material. But that contention is belied by EPA’s acknowledgement that the Proposed Determination adjusted a number of EPA assumptions in response to commenters who pointed out errors at earlier stages. The industry also had an unacceptably short period to try to ascertain why EPA rejected so many of its objections. These procedural defects are significant irrespective of whether the Final Determination constitutes rulemaking or adjudication.
EPA’s unilateral annoncement of its Final Determination also constitutes a failure to harmonize its greenhouse gas emissions standards with NHTSA’s fuel-economy standards, contrary to the letter and intent of EPA’s own regulations. NHTSA has not yet reached a determination on its fuel economy standards and continues its Midterm Evaluation activities.
EPA’s failure to act in coordination with NHTSA also casts serious doubt on the legitimacy of EPA’s data and conclusions, given the substantial discrepancies between EPA’s and NHTSA’s analysis of the technologies and the costs associated with the MY 2022-2025 standards.
…The Alliance is not asking EPA to make a different Final Determination at this time. All we are asking is that EPA withdraw the Final Determination and resume the Midterm Evaluation, in conjunction with NHTSA, consistent with the timetable embodied in EPA’s own regulations.—Alliance letter to Administrator Pruitt