• Dec 20, 2007
If you found it slightly strange that automakers went from being ardently opposed to any new EPA legislation to 100-percent behind the new proposal, you're not alone. Now the picture appears clearer, as the EPA has deemed any new California Air Resources Board (CARB) legislation an unnecessary evil. The significance of the new ruling is so far-reaching that the OEM savings can be heard all across our great land. In short, it means that California and the 17 other states vying for independent CO2 regulations are completely helpless in forcing automakers to be held to a separate, higher standard. Of course, California is now threatening to sue the EPA, which will provide interesting headlines but likely no alternative outcome.
While we will never know if automakers were tipped by the EPA of this eventuality, we can definitely say that every exec in the auto industry is today dancing the jig over this news. Besides, we've been keeping tabs on this situation for some time, so we knew it was a possibility. Having multiple regulations would set back R&D spending for years, as automakers would be chasing their own tails trying to comply with multiple regulations. With no separate standard for green states like California, automakers can now build one car for all 50 states, which will save billions every year. Let's hope that the saved cash will be funneled back into green tech research and development. And let's hope that lawmakers spend more time paving the way for plug-in spots for electric cars, more gas stations with E85, and a proper fuel cell infrastructure, and less time trying to beat on OEMs in an effort to look good for voters.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]


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  • 56 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am not a big fan of the EPA, but they have gotten this one right. It is silly to believe it is cost effective to have states determining emmission standards. We are the United States at least for now, so bravo EPA for telling the liberal weinie enviro-nuts to get a grip on their crotches.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want a diesel engine in a small car. I.e. SMART 451... I can't get one because of CARB. It makes no sense to limit Nox to the degree they do. Why not have the same standards that the Europeans do? This is why those little European diesels aren’t over here. If the tree huggers only (got their head out of their ass) and realized
      that CARBs decisions have actually led to worse fuel mileage, and much waste of our natural resources. The people of California don't care about the rest of the country.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Look at the air over a big city, especially in California. All that brown is NOx and particulates, both of which Diesels are big contributors. Your argument that there's no reason to hold NOx emissions to the levels CARB is pushing is just baseless. As to CARB emissions leading to worse fuel economy, that hasn't been the case since about 1980.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The main thrust of this Autoblog post couldn't be more wrong! California STILL has the right to set maximums for emissions of certain things; the EPA merely refused to grant a waiver to California for it to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases. New cars will continue to be made in one version that meets California emissions standards and a different version that does not.

      Chris Shunk should lose his job for this misinformation!
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      So how does this mesh with that Supreme Court ruling from a few months back that said the states could implement stricter CO2 standards than the feds? Is that ruling now essentially voided since the law has changed, or are the EPA people just being dicks?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well if the Supreme Court overruled this piece of the new CAFE bill and upheld that prior ruling wouldn't that overrule the entire bill? That would be an interesting step backwards.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It doesnt. The Supreme Court (obviously) wins. This is TECHNICALLY over a different issue as this was SPECIFICALLY about the CARB statute but when Cali DOES sue (as they should) they WILL win due to the S.C. ruling.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It didn't. The Supreme Court ruled that CO2 is a potential pollutant under federal clean air laws and that the EPA had to address whether it would regulate it. That's not the same as ruling states could regulate CO2 emissions.

        Now, California could get Congress to pass a law to allow states to regulate CO2 and everything would be okay from the Constitutional standpoint. As for the merits of the man-made global warming scam, that's a whole other argument.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Rebuen: "Well if the Supreme Court overruled this piece of the new CAFE bill and upheld that prior ruling wouldn't that overrule the entire bill?"

        This ISN'T part of the new CAFE bill. It's an EPA ruling that has nothing to do with the CAFE bill.

      • 7 Years Ago
      E85 does not raise food prices. Commodities (corn, soybeans) make up less than 10% of the input cost for food products.

      Pork and Beef production is shifting to feeding by-products of E85 (DDG's or Dried Distiller Grain) vs the corn.

      Cellulostic ethenol production is a requirement of the new energy bill and will reduce the use of corn for E85 production and shift it to Switchgrass and even corn plant stalks.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The new Fuel Economy regulations are so full of loopholes and easy outs that they are worthless. They are a gift to what's left of the domestic car industry and do nothing to help the big picture, be that fuel consumption or more importantly pollution. California at least understands the problem and most certainly will prevail when this issue inevitably reaches the Supreme Court. All this latest Bush joke does is allow the domestics to sell their guzzlers for a couple of more years before the inevitable occurs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Whatever doesn't kill you makes you tougher.

      Environmental standards are becoming tougher all over the world.

      If the American car industry uses protectionism again, they will make sure that the standards they are building their cars to will be lower than those of their foreign competitors. This will weaken the American auto industry, it has been doing so since the 70s.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When in Europe this year I rented a Renault with their new 2.0 diesel. OMG what a fantastic engine! Had it up to the rev limited 137 mph on the autobahn... Nissan could put this in many of their U.S. products.

      I want a diesel engine in a small car. I.e. SMART 451... I can't get one because of CARB. It makes no sense to limit Nox to the degree they do. Why not have the same standards that the Europeans do? This is why those little European diesels aren’t over here. If the tree huggers only (got their head out of their ass) and realized
      that CARBs decisions have actually led to worse fuel mileage, and much waste of our natural resources. The people of California don't care about the rest of the country.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The current CARB standard is the largest hurdle keeping fuel sipping diesels off American streets, in my opinion. CARB too soon set unrealistically low NOx standards encompassing both gas and diesel passenger cars while only a few companies have begun finding solutions for abiding by that strict level with diesels (VW being notable but also others such as BMW, GM and Honda said they can meet it but have yet to put forth said engines on the market.) Where as if you look at Euro standard, they have reasonable separate level for petrol and diesel whilst giving reasonable timeline for automakers to reduce their NOx output.

      I'm not familiar with the recent EPA law other than the 35 mpg deal that's been harped about on this site, but I hope they follow the EU's direction of reasonable yet progressive realistic standards that auto manufacturers can actually meet! I like clean emissions, but give the automakers some reasonable time to develop the clean technology so we Americans can get some actually fuel efficient cars!

        • 7 Years Ago
        One thing that irks me about CAFE is that it's not based on the number you see on the window stickers for new cars. CAFE still uses the old numbers that first appeared on car windows in 1978. The window sticker values were downwardly adjusted in 1985, and again for the 2008 model year. A little factoid for folks -- 35 mpg CAFE translates to 27 mpg combined city/hwy on 2008 window stickers. Check out the spreadsheets at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/download.shtml

        If we believe that the EPA tests are finally accurate after being modified twice, the industry will be achieving in 2020 what we thought was achieved back in 1980, and the loopholes are still big enough to let E85 SUVs drive on through...

        Oh, and I will agree that the CARB low-emission vehicle standards have complicated matters. Some of the more fuel-efficient technologies are fairly "dirty", like lean-burn engines. CARB did a good job of reducing NOx, formaldehyde, unburned material, and other stuff, but the largest components of a modern vehicle's exhaust are nitrogen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and then your various smog-forming nasties are at the very bottom. Maybe CARB regulations should get a little tighter, but continuing down that path means that, before long, cars will emit less pollution than your average cigarette smoker. It's time to focus on the other 99% of what's coming out the tailpipe (er, well, no sense doing anything about the nitrogen, so call it the other 20%... ;-)
        • 7 Years Ago
        CARB standards are strict because California has geographic limitations that enhance the effect of pollution directly.

        If diesels--even clean diesels--were allowed, California's air quality, especially in urban areas, would drop dramatically. Urban environments' emissions issues (especially "cities in a bowl") are better suited to hybrids than diesels. I know this is hard for suburban and rural people in other parts of the US to understand, but diesel is a very, very bad thing. If you spend time in Alpine European cities, you'll experience this effect: diesel is nasty.

        I think the whole of North America would benefit from following CARB's lead, as would the automakers. CARB sets useful, concrete targets (emissions) and doesn't allow nonsensical exemptions unlike CAFE, which is a political clusterf_ck meant to look like decisive action.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The reason multiple standards are a bad idea (at least in my mind) is because at the state level it is very difficult to teach lawmakers what is actually feasable. For example: If California wants to make the average fuel economy 44 MPG, they can just say 'hey, lets make it 44 MPG'. Then the automakers have to dispatch lawyers and lobbyists to California and every other state that wants to make up numbers to fight it (which they all would). That means time and money taken away from new tech to try to get reasonable solutions. It also means that automakers will have to "reach" for solutions, which would be a short-term stop-gap instead of long-term solution like fuel cells.

      Our government doesn't regulate cigarettes, it's only heavy-handed with liquor when it comes to taxes, oil companies aren't mandated to do anything to advance the cause, which includes paying extra taxes to pay for future tech, hydrogen infrastructure, and power stations for electrics. Automakers, however, are mandated like crazy. For safety regualations, I'm all for it because it doesn't necessarily help sell cars to be the safest. For any doubters, check out the Ford Taurus sales numbers.

      For fuel economy, however, basic standards must be held, and the gas guzzler tax is probably a good thing (though none of us wants to pay it). To push the leading edge of innovation when it comes to fuel economy, the consumer must be the deciding factor. We're a cash-driven democracy with people that vote with their wallets. If the American public demands a 100 mpg vehicle in great enough numbers, then GM starts making a Volt. If 3,000 people passionately want an electric vehicle in 1990, GM can't make money on it, and therefore will have trouble convincing board members to shell out billions to make a vehicle nobody really wants when the automaker has more pressing needs.

      Besides, the best way to fix this problem (again, in my mind) is to tax the hell out of gasoline. If we pay $6 per gallon like the Euros, there is no way in hell we drive trucks unless we absolutely have to. We'd begin paying premium prices for small cars like they do in the UK and Germany, and the Government could turn the additional income into funding for alternative energy and a better infrastructure (at least we hope they would). Lawmakers won't take that step because it would require them to work really hard to get re-elected after pushing thru such a measure. They'd probably lose too. So it's better/easier for the lawmakers to place the entire responsibility on Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, and Nissan. Besides, we all pretty much know that the government wouldn't do a stellar job of handling the new income in the first place.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "The reason multiple standards are a bad idea (at least in my mind) is because at the state level it is very difficult to teach lawmakers what is actually feasable. For example: If California wants to make the average fuel economy 44 MPG, they can just say 'hey, lets make it 44 MPG'. Then the automakers have to dispatch lawyers and lobbyists to California and every other state that wants to make up numbers to fight it (which they all would). That means time and money taken away from new tech to try to get reasonable solutions. It also means that automakers will have to "reach" for solutions, which would be a short-term stop-gap instead of long-term solution like fuel cells."

        Did you not read what some of us have been saying? There are ONLY two standards for states to choose from, EPA or CARB. I realize a lot of people in the blog-o-sphere don't like to do any firsthand research or reporting, but you and Autoblog readers would have been well served had you done your homework.
        • 7 Years Ago
        So, Chris you don't actually live in California and have no knowledge of how bad the air quality was. It didn't really get that much better until the past 10 years because tightening regulations are phased-in, not mandated all at once.

        BTW, That headline is wrong and misleading. EPA didn't say states/Calif couldn't regulation emissions; they only said they can't regulate CO2. Your item says automakers can now build one car for 50 states, which is already true if they pick the CARB standard. Some already do this instead of building one car 16 states and one for the rest. That duality continues and wasn't undone by the EPA decision.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Interesting. I wonder of they will look for the "mole" in the EPA? Anyone in manufacturing knows there is no logic to multiple standards for emissions. The practical people from both sides need to be uniform in their requirements to be sucessful. Anyone else is looking for just to much ambiguity.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You don't need to build to multiple standards if you build to the strictest standard, and leave it at that. If Ford built all their cars to meet CARB standards, it would meet the standards of every other state. So, why not do that?
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