American Elephants


Seventeen States Attack EPA Vehicle Emission Standards. Weak Legal Case, Big Publicity. by The Elephant's Child

Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator is doing a marvelous job, rolling back one bad EPA regulation after another, and the Left wants his head. He believes that credible science and transparency are necessary elements of sound policy. Well, we can’t have that. He believes that the EPA should no longer enjoy free rein to impose major regulations that are based on studies that are not available for public scrutiny. And the environmental lobby is having hissy-fits. Their claim that research subjects’ privacy would be violated is nonsense. Personal information is not even relevant in agency rule-making.

The environmental group’s rallying cry was that the public has a “right to know” for public disclosure requirements on the private sector that included informational labeling, emissions reporting, workplace safety warnings, beach advisories, and pending enforcement actions.

The proposed rule is aligned with the Data Access Act which requires federal agencies to ensure that data which is produced under grants or agreements with universities, hospitals and nonprofit organizations is available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act.

Legislation was passed by the House last year to prohibit the EPA from “proposing, finalizing or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information which was relied on to support the action is the best available science, specifically identified, and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results. The EPA, among other obfuscations, was blaming all sorts of things on causing asthma in children—totally ignoring the fact that physicians do not know what causes asthma. That sort of thing. EPA regulation has expanded exponentially every decade since the 1970s at tremendous expense to the nation. The science that supported the regulation was apparently a secret.

California, joined by 16 states and the District of Columbia has petitioned the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to stop EPA Administrator Pruitt from revising his predecessor’s greenhouse gas emission standards for new cars sold in 2022-2025. Their press release claimed that their “lawsuit is based on the fact that the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, failed to follow its own regulations, and violated the Clean Air Act.”

Well, no this is not a final action. The EPA rule specifically states that if EPA decides the standards are appropriate, that “decision will be the final agency action which will also be subject to judicial review on its merits.”

The Obama era EPA’s rush to judgment was for the political purpose of confronting the incoming Trump administration with a regulatory fait accompli, and it produced an agenda-driven rulemaking rather than an evidence-based rulemaking. There was supposed to be a harmonized national vehicle program. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers warns that” the process now bears no resemblance to the coordinated effort that was envisioned in the midterm evaluation.”

It’s bad enough that the federal government presumes to determine for all consumers the relative importance of fuel efficiency compared to other vehicle attributes such as affordability, size, safety, utility, comfort, and style. States should not have a say in determining such tradeoffs in what every reasonable person acknowledges should be a national market.

The nation’s fuel economy statute, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, prohibits states from adopting or enforcing laws or regulations “related to” fuel economy. California’s greenhouse gas emission standards are strongly related to fuel economy standards, because carbon dioxide (CO2) constitutes 94.9 percent of vehicular GHG emissions, and “there is a single pool of technologies … that reduce fuel consumption and thereby CO2 emissions as well” (75 FR 25372).

The top ten automobile producing states are Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. California is not on the list. Their lawsuit is vastly premature as they can only sue for a “final action” which isn’t anywhere near the case. So we can assume that this is some kind of grandstanding. Pruitt’s determination that the Obama rules are not appropriate is based on new information about fuel prices, projected vehicle cost, consumer preferences and other relevant factors. The proposed notice of withdrawal summarizes the viewpoints of experts who disagree with the agency’s assessments. It just doesn’t reach the conclusion that California wants. With the 17 state lawsuit, however, you will hear a lot about how the Trump EPA is trying to destroy the environment and make automobiles noxious gas emission spewing horrors, or something like that. Trump Derangement Syndrome.


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