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API strongly opposes latest CAFE standards

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Apr. 5 -- The American Petroleum Institute opposes a new rule the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation issued for fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sold in the US, starting with 2012 models and gradually increasing through 2016 model-year vehicles.

The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard would be equivalent to an average of 35.5 mpg for 2016 model-year vehicles if all GHG emission reductions were to come from fuel economy improvements. The standard could be as low as 34.1 mpg if automakers meet it through a combination of fuel economy and air-conditioning improvements.

For the first time, greenhouse gas emission regulations are incorporated into CAFE standards. The EPA GHG standards require these vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 g of carbon dioxide per mile in model-year 2016.

In a conference call with reporters from Washington, DC, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said Apr. 1 that this is the first US regulation to cover GHG emissions.

API and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association each issued separate statements expressing concerns about the Apr. 1 announcement, which stemmed from a 2009 directive by US President Barack Obama that EPA and DOT work together on fuel economy standards. Previous CAFE standards made no mention of GHG emissions.

API comments
API said improved vehicle efficiency is “a vital part of energy conservation,” but the industry group questions GHG regulations from EPA being included in DOT’s fuel economy standards.

“EPA joining DOT in this rule sets the nation on the disastrous course of Clean Air Act regulation of stationary source greenhouse gas emissions,” API said. “The states aren’t prepared for this, the path of implementation is unclear, and the costs and delays will likely prove severe.”

The rule is expected to be tied closely to future regulations of stationary source GHG emissions, which will affect refiners.

“The rule is not just about vehicle efficiency. It’s about EPA overreaching to create an opportunity for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from virtually every firm and business in America,” API said. “The Clean Air Act was intended to control traditional pollutants, not greenhouse gas emissions that come from every vehicle, home, factory, and farm in America.”

The latest fuel economy announcement did not directly address the threshold at which refineries and other large industrial plans would be required to control GHGs (OGJ, Mar. 1, 2010, p. 29).

NPRA comments
NPRA Pres. Charles Drevna said NPRA was “perplexed that EPA has chosen to proceed with this rulemaking, given its implications and the potential for harmful consequences involved.”

In comments to the EPA on Nov. 25, 2009, NPRA said EPA has not taken the necessary steps to address the financial and regulatory impacts that will result from this rulemaking.

Drevna said the “tailpipe rule” established standards to regulate GHG emissions under the CAA, and he said CAA never was intended to regulate GHG emissions.

“Of even greater concern, however, is the fact that EPA has acknowledged that regulation of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act will lead next year to the regulation of stationary source emissions of greenhouse gases,” he said. “Such misguided and flawed policy has the potential for devastating consequences to American consumers, businesses, jobs, and the economy.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.


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