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EPA Says Vehicle Emissions Standards Should Be Revised

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has determined that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles model years 2022-2025 are not appropriate and should be revised. Pruitt’s determination came after the completion of the Midterm Evaluation process for the standards.

“The Obama Administration's determination was wrong,” said Pruitt. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high.”

Pruitt has launched a joint process involving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a notice and comment rulemaking to set “more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. Through a CAA waiver granted by the EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements. The California waiver is still being reexamined by Pruitt.

“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” said Pruitt. "EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars. It is in America's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard."

The steel and aluminum industries have been engaged in a pitched battle for market dominance under the expected change in CAFE standards over the past decade. The domestic aluminum industry has invested billions in capital expenditures to expand its reach into autobody sheet, while the steel industry has been pushing the development of next-generation steels to provide the same level of strength and formability in mild steels at lower weights.

“The U.S. aluminum industry looks forward to continuing working with the administration and other stakeholders to ensure final emissions and fuel economy standards are premised on facts, data and on-the-road examples,” said Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association. "Vehicles made lighter through greater aluminum use offer consumers better performance, affordable choices, higher fuel economy, lower emissions and improved safety." She said the association supports “regulatory certainty to 2025 through one national program.”

The move was applauded by the American Iron and Steel Institute.  

“Today’s announcement by Administrator Pruitt is a positive development for the steel industry and our partners in the auto sector,” said AISI President and CEO Thomas Gibson. "In the past, we expressed concern the good faith efforts by our industry and our customers were short-circuited by the previous administration in an attempt to push through a final determination before all of the public comments were thoroughly considered. We have been working with the EPA toward revisiting this measure and applaud today’s decision to pause and look at ways the light duty vehicle program can be addressed to allow assessment of other factors affecting the environment and economy."

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