Update: H.R. 1 Blocks Phase 1 and Phase 2 of National Program for Clean Cars

This blog updates my previous blog with our latest understanding of how the bill would block both phase 1 (model years 2012-16) and phase 2 (model years 2017-25) of the National Program for clean cars.

On February 19th, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1 on a vote of 235 to 189 with only three Republicans joining all the Democrats in voting no. By blocking what we call the Clean Car Peace Treaty, H.R. 1 would also raise consumer fuel bills, worsen our oil dependency, and throw automaker production plans into chaos.

H.R. 1 is a “continuing resolution” to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year and includes a provision that would bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from using any funds to address emissions of carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases. As my colleague Dan Lashof points out, H.R. 1 is really “an an all out assault on government, and the public health safeguards most Americans want government to enforce EPA, at the behest of big polluters and anti-science ideologues.”  

Section 1746 of H.R. 1 Blocks 2012-16 Implementation of National Program

Defunding EPA would block the implementation of phase 1 of the National Program that sets new pollution and efficiency standards for model year 2012-16 cars and light trucks. The agreement was brokered by the President and is still has strong and broad support from key stakeholders including automakers, California and other clean car states, environmental leaders, and the UAW. It sets the first-ever EPA carbon pollution standards for new cars and raises fuel economy standards to 34.1 mpg by model year 2016. It provides California and the clean car states the pollution reduction they sought, while giving automakers the certainty they need to plan their production.

H.R. 1 would block phase 1of the National Program because California does not yet have approval from the EPA to allow it to implement a 2010 amendment to its program that allows automakers to use compliance with EPA standards to be used for demonstration of compliance with its program. This amendment is essential component of the National Program because the automakers want to design and build their fleets to meet a single national fleet standard.

California has already submitted to EPA a request to determine that these new amendments are “within-the-scope” of the previous waiver request. Unfortunately, H.R. 1 would block EPA from even considering the request since Section 1746 bars EPA from “taking action … due to concerns regarding possible climate change”. (See pages 266 and 267 of H.R. 1. The text of section 1746 is also pasted below at the end of this blog).

Without the waiver, California and 13 others states (plus D.C.) that have adopted California’s standards would have no choice but to enforce their separate programs. Given adequate lead time, this would not be a problem but the challenge is that automakers need at least two years lead time to plan their production. Model year 2012 is less than a year away.

The uncertainty created puts the substantial fuel and pollution from the National Program at risk. And as I discussed in an earlier blog, due to differences in their underlying authorities, the EPA standards provides greater benefits than the companion fuel economy standard program that would be allowed to go forward under H.R. 1.

H.R. 1 Defunds EPA from Developing Next Round of National Program Standards

Just as troubling, H.R. 1 would also block EPA from working on the next phase of the National Program, covering model years 2017 to 2025, that could raise standards to as high as 62 mpg by the end of that period.  The House Appropriations Committee’s spreadsheet documenting the budget cuts contained in the continuing resolution specifies a $6.1 million reduction in EPA's budget to develop greenhouse gas standards for cars and trucks (see below for more details). This would block EPA's ability to not only develop the second phase of the National Program for cars but also finalize a joint rule for new emission and fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks

With oil prices on the rise again, it’s critical we move forward on the most effective program to protect drivers from high oil prices. Over the lifetime of just vehicles sold in model year 2025, the Environmental Protection Agency projects its standards could save the average drivers as much as $7400, reduce oil consumption by as much as 55 billion gallons and cut U.S. carbon pollution by as much as 590 million metric tons.

Blocking the Clean Car Peace Treaty throws years of progress on common-sense pollution and fuel economy standards into reverse.  H.R. 1 is a bad deal for consumers, our oil dependency, and the auto industry.


H.R. 1 section 1746 can be found on pages 266-267 here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1eh/pdf/BILLS-112hr1eh.pdf

SEC. 1746. None of the funds made available to the Environmental Protection Agency by this division or any other Act may be expended for purposes of enforcing or promulgating any regulation (other than with respect to section 202 of the Clean Air Act) or order, taking action relating to, or denying approval of state implementation plans or permits because of the emissions of greenhouse gases due to concerns regarding possible climate change. [Note: California’s authority to set its own motor vehicle standards is contained in section 209 of the Clean Air Act.]

The House Appropriations Committee’s cuts to EPA’s motor vehicle program can be found on page 9 here: http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov/_files/ProgramCutsFY2011ContinuingResolution.pdf

The spreadsheet specifies completely eliminating EPA’s budget for “EPA Federal vehicle fuels vstandards & certification: L/D and large transportation sources”.