EPA Denies CARB Waiver Petition to Regulate CO2

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December 20, 2007

The automakers achieved a significant victory yesterday when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition to allow, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) to set their own requirement to regulate CO2 emissions from vehicles.

The decision to deny the petition appears to have been timed with the signing of the new energy bill which included raising the fuel economy requirements

The EPA in a written statement has determined that a unified federal standard of 35 miles per gallon will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks in all 50 states, which would be more effective than a partial state-by-state approach of 33.8 miles per gallon.

The government of California has stated they will appeal the decision.

This is a milestone for the automakers because the federal requirements now supercede those set by CARB and adopted by other states.

In recent years many states* have adopted CARB emission requirements. This has resulted in a burden on manufacturers because they would have to design two powertrains, those to sell in California and the few states that have adopted CARB standards and the rest of the country.

The Clean Air Act gave CARB the ability to set their own emissions requirements with approval from the EPA. The denial of the petition allowing CARB to set their own CO2 requirements (indirectly fuel economy) allows the federal government to now unify fuel economy standards across the country.

CARB’s petition was a back door way for California to regulate fuel economy. According to government law, only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the authority to regulate fuel economy directly and the EPA through a court decision, CO2 unless CARB obtains a waiver.

Given the significant increase in CAFE with the passage of the new energy bill, the automaker can now focus their engineering resources to meet one set of requirements. That is the significance of EPA’s decision given how impractical it would be for auto companies to design vehicles for individual states (not likely but the potential existed).

*New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey.

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