UPDATE: EPA Rejects 2022-2025 Emission Standards

April 02, 2018 at 5:45 PM

As expected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided that emission and fuel economy targets set under the Obama administration for 2022-2025 are too high.

The ruling will begin a rulemaking process that could return the country to two sets of standards: federal regulations for most states and a separate set of rules for California and 12 states that have adopted its standards.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declares that his agency’s own conclusion about the standards, made in the last few days of the Obama administration, was tainted by politically charged expediency and made assumptions that “didn’t comport with reality.”

Carmakers, through the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, applaud the decision. They also point out that revised rules may eventually lead to the same emission levels but at a pace that would reduce costs to them and their customers.

The 2022-2025 standards, which carmakers agreed to seven years ago, describe a period of rapidly tightening limits for carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas. CO2 levels are directly related to fuel efficiency in engines that burn petroleum-based fuels and the regulations would have pushed up average real-world fuel economy levels to about 36 mpg.

Pruitt suggested a year ago that Congress decide whether CO2 should be considered a pollutant to regulate. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that EPA has a right under the Clean Air Act to set emission standards for CO2, which the agency exercised two years later.

The Clean Air Act also grants California special rights to set its own emission standards. The state has vowed to implement the original 2022-2025 standards regardless of EPA’s new rulemaking. Pruitt has threatened to “revoke” California’s powers if necessary to create a single set of emission and fuel economy standards that apply to all 50 states.