Clean Air Watch

EPA Proposes to Retain NAAQS for Particulate Matter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposal to retain, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10).

Per the EPA, this proposal comes after careful review and consideration of the most current available scientific evidence and risk and exposure information, and with consultation and confirmation by the agency’s independent science advisors.

To view the press release, click here.

To view the fact sheet, click here.

U.S. House Committee Advances Electric Vehicle Bill

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy advanced H.R. 5545, the New Opportunities to Expand Healthy Air Using Sustainable Transportation (NO EXHAUST) Act of 2020. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) two days ago. The bill would authorize:

  • $2 billion per year from fiscal year 2021 through 2030 for the grants to state and local governments and private entities for electric vehicle deployment;
  • $2.5 billion per year over the same period for large-scale projects to electrify the transportation sector; and
  • $2.5 billion per year over the same period to accelerate the domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles.

This was one of the nine bills that advanced through the subcommittee relating to energy efficiency.

To view the bill, click here.

To view Congressman Rush’s press release, click here.

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Holds Hearing on Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled, “Trump’s Wrong Turn on Clean Cars; The Effects of Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks on the Climate, Car Companies, and California.” Subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-CA) in his opening statement expresses his disdain with the Administration’s proposal to freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards at 2020 levels, rolling back Obama Administration policy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to revoke the State of California’s waiver that allows the state to set its own tailpipe emissions standards under the Clean Air Act of 1970. Chairman Rouda asserted that “stricter emissions standards not only reduce the main cause of global warming, but encourage automakers to develop newer, more efficient vehicles that will save Americans money at the pump and improve the health of each and every American.”

The hearing also sought to examine the fossil fuel industry’s influence over the change in regulatory decision-making process at the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During the first panel, Senator Whitehouse used his opening statement to discuss how “the fuel economy standards would have little effect on the number of cars sold, they would considerably affect the amount of gasoline sold. That 1.7 trillion dollars saved by consumers is lost oil industry revenue,” arguing that the oil industry hired groups and trade associations that lobbied on behalf of the oil industry to have these regulations rolled-back. Senator Whitehouse also scrutinized the current U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust investigation into the four automakers and the State of California agreement to adhere to California emissions standards.

During opening statements for the second panel, the first three testimonies all echoed similar sentiments regarding why the roll back of CAFE and GHG emissions standards by the Administration will negatively impact air quality and eventually the health of Americans. Dr. Wimberger stated that the three main impacts of the roll backs and revocation of California’s waiver will ensue which are, uncertainty for automakers, any meaningful impact on reducing GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and adversely impact air quality in areas of the country that do not currently meet federal health based air quality standards, putting the health of vulnerable Americans at an increased risk.

Witnesses:

Panel 1:

  • The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Former Governor of California
  • The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island

Panel 2:

  • Antonio M. Bento, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, University of Southern California
  • The Honorable Samuel Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, California
  • Emily Wimberger, Climate Economist, Rhodium Group
  • Marlo Lewis (minority witness), Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. Senator Calls for New Electric Vehicle Subsidies

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is proposing a new $400 billion dollar incentive program for electric vehicles. According to Politico, the proposal would start with $3,000 vouchers to trade in gas-powered vehicles for plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For lower income Americans’, larger  vouchers would be available.

The current program is stated under the Internal Revenue Code Section 30D, which establishes an electric vehicle (EV) tax credit as an incentive for consumers to buy and own qualified electric vehicles. The claimed credit can be up to $7,500 and is based on the EV’s car battery size. The federal government is looking at phasing out these tax credits and while there is no set expiration date, that process has already started.

Schumer intends for the program to be part of a larger climate bill and has not yet written up legislation for the proposal. Schumer’s program would be in addition to the current program, which some are hoping to expand. However, consumers would need to pick between the two programs.

U.S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Sustainability within Transportation Sector

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “The Next Mile: Technology Pathways to Accelerate Sustainability Within the Transportation Sector.” In his opening statement, Chairman Conor Lamb (D-PA) emphasizes that “transportation is vital to our everyday lives,” and the purpose of the hearing is to discuss how to “be smarter about our investments in technologies that can help reduce emissions in this sector.” Ranking Member Randy Weber’s (R-TX) opening statement further emphasizes the need for a conversation about sustainable transportation and H.R. 2170, the Vehicle Innovation Act of 2019, which would provide additional funding for Department of Energy vehicle research activity and research to reduce or eliminate vehicle emissions or petroleum usage.

Witnesses, in testimonies, highlighted the importance of transforming our forms of mobility into affordable, and energy efficient options, such as electric vehicles and optimizing alternative fuel options. Witnesses also discussed how the U.S. can better utilize our energy resources to benefit our national security, climate change, and increase the efficiency of American lives and that these start with upgrading our modes of transportation.

Witnesses:

  • Ann M. Schlenker, Director, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory
  • James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy, Rivian Automotive LLC
  • Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council
  • Claus Daniel, Director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Tim Cortes, Vice President of Hydrogen Energy Systems, Plug Power Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. EPA Seeks to Revoke California’s Authority on Setting Emissions Standards

Today, Elaine Chao, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced their effort to revoke California’s authority on enforcing stricter fuel economy standards. The EPA originally granted California a preemption waiver in 2013 under the Clean Air Act. This waiver related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and zero emission vehicles (ZEV), however, California has taken the lead in setting the bar for national standards, preempting federal standards. The One National Program rule proposed today by Secretary Chao and Administrator Wheeler revokes that waiver, yet still allows California to enforce low emission vehicle standards and other air standards.

The Trump Administration was planning on a roll back of Obama-era fuel economy standards, and this issue finally came to a head when California recently engaged in a voluntary agreement with four automakers to adhere to the Obama-era standards. California has the largest auto market in the U.S.; therefore, automakers are more inclined to develop vehicles that adhere to California standards, regardless of whether they are stricter than the federal standard or not.

The One National Program rule “finalizes critical parts of the Safer, Affordable, Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule that was first proposed in August 2018.” The SAFE Vehicles Rule “proposed new and amended greenhouse gas emission (GHG) and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for model year 2021 to 2026 light duty vehicles…includ[ing] a ‘preferred alternative’ to lock-in the model year (MY) 2020 GHG/CAFE standards for model years 2021 – 2026.”

To view the press conference in its entirety, click here.

To view the U.S. EPA final rule and fact sheet, click here.

 

U.S. House Subcommittee holds Hearing on Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards

This week the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change held a joint hearing entitled “Driving in Reverse: The Administration’s Rollback of Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards.” In an effort to combat climate change, remain competitive globally in the automotive industry, improve air quality standards, and keep jobs for American’s, the subcommittees explored the Administration’s proposed roll back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for Model Year (MY) 2021-2026 light-duty cars and trucks.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks to reduce fuel consumption and encourage Americans to invest in clean, more efficient vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for vehicles under the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA). Additionally, under the same law, the EPA may grant waivers of preemption that would allow a state to implement its own standards, as it has done with California many times. Due to overlap, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would be working together to standardize CAFE and GHG standards, as well as California standards, rather than automakers adhering to a patchwork of regulations.

Under the Administration, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would reconsider the final decision from 2017 for CAFE and GHG standards. In 2018 the agencies submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for MY 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, that would maintain current standards through MY 2020 but would freeze the standard after that and withdraw California’s waiver. Subcommittee members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns regarding the rollback arguing that the rule would eliminate approximately 60,000 jobs from the automotive industry, CO2 emissions, gasoline and oil consumption would increase, ultimately decreasing the quality of air for Americans, increasing the number of auto-related deaths per year, and costing consumers more money. Representatives from NHTSA and the EPA did not agree.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable William L. Wehrum, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

  • Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

 

  • The Honorable Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board

 

  • David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy, Consumer Reports

 

  • Ramzi Y. Hermiz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Shiloh Industries, Inc.

 

  • Josh Nassar, Legislative Director, United Auto Worker

 

  • The Honorable Jeff Landry, Attorney General, State of Louisiana

 

  • David Schwietert, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

 

  • Nick Loris, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe institute for Economic Policy; Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy, Heritage Foundation

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

Democrats Introduce Legislation for Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2040

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and U.S. Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019, that would make all new car sales zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. Senator Merkley and Congressman Levin are the lead sponsors on the bill. The legislation has already garnered support in both the House and Senate.

To view Senator Merkley’s remarks, click here.

To view Congressman Levin’s remarks, click here.

Visit Your State's Website