• Jan 26, 2009
UPDATE: For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that there will be two emissions standards that states can choose - CA and Federal - not the "potentially fifty" that some worry about.
Brace yourselves for a mess. The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration intends to allow California and other states to set their own emissions and fuel economy standards. Obama is expected to announce his decision this week, maybe even as early as today. The move, which Obama campaigned on during the run up to last November's election, would overturn the prior Bush administration's denial of a waiver to California that allows the Golden State to set its own standards and other states to adopt them.

If the report is correct, it's not clear yet what the implications of the decision will be or how automakers will react. If things proceed in an orderly and organized fashion, it will be a minor miracle. Consumer experiences may well mirror what went on with diesels, most of which were recently unavailable in states adhering to California's stricter emissions standards.

Critics of state-administrated emissions standards fear that the potential for 50 different requirements will result in a costly quagmire. It will undoubtedly cost automakers more to conform to various and differing requirements, eating up profits (not to mention bailout funds) as well.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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  • 140 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a dumb law.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "why not the LS2LS7? 2:29AM (1/26/2009)

      CARB is not run by the CA legislature and isn't even in the legislative branch."

      In this case, wrong.

      The legislature passed AB32 (and signed by the Gov) which mandates or allows (however you want to look at it) CARB to set standards for global warming (CO2) emissions.

      "zamafir

      @why not the LS2LS7?: Thanks for keeping this discussion in the realm of reality :)."

      zamafir, what reality is that? Candy-coated feel good intentions utopia?

      Pull the collective wool from your eyes, just because the CA government does something PC, doesn't mean its right.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh please. These people only know good intentions. They aren't interested in results.
        To cure cancer, you make it illegal to get sick. That is how they think. After all, why would you not want to outlaw illness? How cruel must you be? You must be part of the Big Pharmacy Lobby! You just want us to get sick and use pills all the time while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer!
      • 5 Years Ago
      D-God - "saving us from foreign oil" was the point behind CAFE in the first place. And what has happened since? An overall INCREASE in gasoline consumption. Maintaing a cheap carbon-based fuel will only encourage its use and discourage conservation efforts, goodwill to the contrary.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a stupid move. Four years of this is going to be hell.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Four?
        Jonathan Dearest, when--ever--has an "environmental" standard been reversed?
      axiom
      • 5 Years Ago

      "Critics of state-administrated emissions standards fear that the potential for 50 different requirements will result in a costly quagmire. It will undoubtedly cost automakers more to conform to various and differing requirements, eating up profits (not to mention bailout funds) as well."

      This is blatant disinformation, Dan Roth. The law does not permit each state to set their own standard, it only allows them the option of choosing either the Califi standard or the federal standard. California has always been granted approval except for the one exception with Bush, and the automakers have always built ALL their models to comply with it. Explain how the status quo is going to "eat up their profits". Maybe you are so ignorant that you don't even know what you're talking about, or maybe you do know but you want take advantage of your readers by deliberately lying to them. Either way you should be fired.

      On car emissions, the Clean Air Act gives California special authority to regulate vehicle pollution because the state began regulating such pollution before the federal government did. But a federal waiver is still required; if the waiver is granted, other states can choose to adopt California's standards or the federal ones.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @axiom
        That is completely wrong. You are the ignorant one here. The automakers always make a special car for California standards, and the majority of the others for the rest of the states that don't follow their regulations. For example the Focus has a few engines an then a separate one "Standard on all cars sold in 2003 and 2004 in California, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and Maine; optional in other US states." The cost of doing this is astronomical but California is too big of a market to be ignored. For Ford to do this they have to deal with the additional cost of developing separate calibrations, running EPA tests, different catalysts that require more platinum or other precious metals, and many other costs that definitely add up. That model will have less power and cost more. They can't just add on all that cost to the price of the car because people will refuse to buy it so the company has to absorb this cost. This law doesn't require the other states to adopt California's standards, so if they choose not to adopt the standards, or make other standards, even ones that are less stringent it will still hurt the automakers because separate EPA tests have to be run for each model. This puts California in more control than all other states and the federal government. They will continue to push the standards higher each year.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My dream of one worldwide fuel economy/safety/pollution standard will never come true.

      :sigh:
      • 5 Years Ago
      CW...keep talking...you're looking like a bigger dolt by the second.

      Whether you believe me about where I work or not has no consequence on the facts. The silver lining in all this is that at least people like you aren't remotely involved.

      Now...go and have a chat with God and let us know what he tells you..and get back to us.

      • 5 Years Ago
      This should kill off GM and Chrysler, and drive Ford out of California.

      Another poorly thought out move from Obama.
        • 5 Years Ago
        PJ: When *Obama* creates smaller federal government, that's a *bad* thing.

        But he effectively didn'; instead, he moved it to the People's Republic of Kalifornia - which will now legislate for the country instead of Congress.

        Brilliant!

        I'm effectively a states-righter, but in the case of commerce it's almost impossible to have national level products (read: businesses) when you have 50 different sets of laws to contend with. Let's not talk about the fact that some states may actually kick the can down to the county level (shudder).


        • 5 Years Ago
        @notYou: There is no Constitutional right to "a national level product". The government exists to protect the people, not the corporations. If the people want to pass laws to protect their environment, well, it's just too bad if that makes it a little less convenient for megacorps to hawk their wares. At least it's still a level playing field - *all* auto manufacturers will have to contend with the new laws.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boy,
        It doesn't matter what Wyoming does. What matters is what California does. The most bankrupt state in the union is going to bankrupt us all.

        It *is* the end of GM and Chrysler and *will* kick Ford out of California. Democracy has destroyed itself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ PJ

        How arrogant is it for the Obama administration to say we'll let the 10th amendment stand (at least in this case). States are free to pass their own restrictions. It is a fact. And it is not good for the automakers but they have to deal with other countries standards too so they will have to deal with this.

        Tough luck.

        Again I will say. This would be easier to deal with by levying a higher gas tax but the government still thinks, "So it is written, so it will be." when it comes to their arbitrary regulations. To quote an unlaughed at joke from SNL, "We've mandated 200 mile per gallon cars by 2012; so we've done our part."
        • 5 Years Ago
        So... let me just get this straight.

        When *Obama* creates smaller federal government, that's a *bad* thing.

        Just so we're clear.

        Speaking of clarity, those "unclear implications of this decision" are going to be pretty simple: nothing. Nothing newsworthy, anyway. California is the only state that cares about setting its own emissions/fuel economy standards, and every automaker already aligns the vast majority of its products to those standards to streamline distribution.

        Does anyone really believe that Wyoming's suddenly going to jump up and mandate 200 MPG flying cars because of this?
      • 5 Years Ago
      First step in the right direction.... Our future is not ours - It's everyone's.....

      • 5 Years Ago
      Terrible idea, whoever has the most stringent emissions standards will dictate what auto manufacturers make. It is too expensive for them to make different vehicles for 50 different states.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, what an incredibly sensationalist and uninformed post to the Autoblog. There are only two things you need to know:

      1) This re-establishes the regime that was in place prior to Bush 43 (and that has always been provided for in the Clean Air Act). Was there chaos before? No.

      2) States can't just enact their own emissions standards. What the statute says is that states can propose stricter/alternative emissions guidelines that the EPA can then approve at its discretion. So, under Bush 43, basically the EPA was gimped into disallowing all alternative plans, leaving everyone stuck with the national standard.

      The result of this change? As others have stated: there will be the national standard and the California standard. Just like it's always been.
      • 5 Years Ago
      OK,

      The standard should be the same for all 50 States. Period!

      Lets not get into a big mess over each state having different standards. No way.

      Obama and his staff needs to do this officially and in a way that will help the auto industry once again, cope with another change. We can help the environment and have fun vehicles to drive around in as well.

      Lets do this right this time around.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Great Idea!

        Global standards!

        I am with you on this one.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Steve - to expand on your comments, for the sake of consumers and automakers, the current administration would do the world a service if it sent the EPA and NTHSA to meet with Canadian, European and Japanese officials. The goal should be to have a standardized safety and emissions guidelines for the entire world.

        Just think about how much more efficient most of the automakers could be if they were making only one line of cars that works no matter where it ends up.

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