EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

So many executive orders, so much twitter. What to do? Well, discuss it here for one...

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EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

#1 Post by TrueTexan » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:27 am

The Trump administration has for several years been working to weaken federal vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. To justify these changes, regulatory agencies argued that more stringent standards would both cost consumers more and reduce road safety. A draft version of the new final rule, however, seems to directly contradict those lines of reasoning.

The draft of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule has not been released publicly, but Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) has seen it. In a letter (PDF) to the White House, Carper says not only is the rule "replete with numerous questionable legal, procedural, and technical assertions," as well as "apparent typographical and other errors," but it also completely fails to provide the safety or economic benefits initially claimed.

Why SAFE?

The SAFE rule is part of a back-and-forth that hasn't literally been going on since the dawn of time, but it kind of feels that way. The kerfuffle all began in 2012 when the Obama administration adopted a fuel-economy standard that would gradually increase the average miles-per-gallon rating for most cars to 54.5mpg by 2025 (about 40mpg under real-world conditions). The Environmental Protection Agency finalized that standard in December 2016.

Like many regulations either finalized or enacted during the tail end of the Obama administration, though, the fuel-economy standard had a target on its back when the Trump administration began a month later. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in 2018 kicked off a rulemaking process to dump the 2012 rule and replace it with something weaker.

The EPA's core argument for again lowering fuel-economy expectations hinged on cost. More efficient cars would cost more to make, the EPA said, which in turn means higher costs for consumers. The agency estimated the price of a new car would go up by $2,340, hitting consumers right in the pocketbook.

From there, the argument went on, consumers would also be more at risk for injury and death in road accidents because newer cars are safer than older ones. But if prices went up, the argument goes, more drivers would instead choose to hang onto older, less safe models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which worked with the EPA to design the proposal, estimated that nixing the higher fuel-economy standard would save 12,700 lives through the 2029 model year.

An expert told Ars at the time that this reasoning seemed specious, noting that researchers have not yet demonstrated "a statistically rigorous association between traffic fatalities and fuel economy."

When more is less

Sen. Carper seems to agree, writing that the math simply doesn't add up. "Remarkably, the costs of the Trump administration's draft final rule exceed its benefits to Americans" relative to the current standards.

The senator writes:
While the draft final rule finds that the per vehicle purchase price would be reduced relative to the Obama rules by $977 (EPA greenhouse gas standards)/$1,083 (DOT's fuel economy standards), the draft final rule also projects that the increased gasoline consumers would have to use to operate the less fuel-efficient vehicles would ad $1,461 (EPA greenhouse gas standards)/$1,423 (DOT fuel economy standards) to these costs. Adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of each vehicle would seem to be the opposite of the more "affordable" vehicles the SAFE rule promised.

Further, Carper notes, the estimate of lives potentially saved over a nearly 50-year time period by upgrading to new cars does not take into account the lives potentially lost to illness and disease attributable to increased pollution from less efficient cars.

And of course, Carper notes, lower fuel-economy standards that result in consumers buying and using more gas, means burning more fossil fuels at a time when we should be doing the opposite.

"My office's review of the draft final rule indicates that it utterly fails to provide any demonstrable safety, environmental, or economic benefit to consumers or the country," Carper concludes. "It should be abandoned. At a minimum, I seek your commitment that you will not allow the finalization of this extreme and unlawful environmental rollback in any form that even remotely resembles" the current draft.

Meanwhile, the fight is unlikely to end with the passage of a new federal rule. A group of automakers has rallied behind a stricter standard developed by California regulators, which several other states have indicated they will also adopt. The administration sued California, which sued back; those cases are still winding their way through the court.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/202 ... tor-finds/

The new rollback does nothing for the consumer. But it takes more money for the oil companies.


Like most of Trump's rollbacks of Obama regulations it is mainly a vindictive act against Obama.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer-Kissinger
Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.-Swift

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Re: EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

#2 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:58 am

A Democratic Senator coming out against another insane, idiotic, vindictive Trump move isn't news, because it will have ZERO impact.
""If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." -- LBJ

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Re: EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

#3 Post by highdesert » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:07 pm

YankeeTarheel wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:58 am
A Democratic Senator coming out against another insane, idiotic, vindictive Trump move isn't news, because it will have ZERO impact.
Yes, it's an election year so Trump and Republicans are pulling out all the stops to appeal to voters. Exactly why Trump went to an anti-abortion event, he has their votes already but it's election time.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Re: EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

#4 Post by joemac » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:07 pm

I wonder who leaked the Final Rule to the Senator’s office. It only just arrived at OMB for review this week. It’s so locked down that even the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality hasn’t seen it.


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Re: EPA reasoning for gutting fuel-economy rule doesn’t hold up, senator finds

#5 Post by TrueTexan » Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:24 pm

Interesting long article on the production of oil and natural gas by fracking and how every well being drilled and fracked is losing money and increasing pollution. There is the old adage: If you are doing something that hurts you should stop doing it. You normally don't stay in business long if your production of your product loses money.
As 2020 begins, the impacts of climate change have become increasingly clear around the world. The new year started amid devastating wildfires, tied to the worst droughts Australia has experienced in hundreds of years, which encircled much of the continent. So far, 29 people have been reported dead. A University of Sydney professor estimated the number of animals killed likely tops one billion.

Today’s climate impacts have been shaped heavily by actions taken during the last 10 years, particularly in the U.S., where the climate benefits of coal power plant retirements were undermined by the rise of natural gas. Global carbon emissions had leveled off in the middle of the last decade, but began to climb again in 2017, breaking records anew each year since.

Over the past decade, as the climate crisis worsened, hundreds of drilling rigs dotted both the Permian Basin’s desert expanses in Texas and the Marcellus Shale’s Appalachian hills, grinding through rock to reach oil and gas trapped in brittle shale deep underground. In that time, the U.S. smashed global records for the production of oil and gas — two of the three fossil fuels most responsible for the ongoing climate crisis.

And at the same time, the last decade’s rush to drill continued to prove spectacularly unprofitable. The year 2020 arrived amid tens of billions of dollars in new fiscal write-downs and losses for oil drillers and fracking firms. Moody’s observed that oil and gas debt defaults represented 91 percent of the country’s total corporate debt defaults during the next-to-last fiscal quarter of the decade.

As the new decade starts, it’s worth taking stock of the last decade’s rush to drill and frack for oil and gas and to consider what we now know about how the costs of climate change have begun piling up at increasing rates over the past 10 or so years.
https://truthout.org/articles/after-a-d ... in-crisis/

We are now the largest producer of oil and gas. We are exporting it to other countries at a loss. Why are we exporting it? We should be leaving it in the ground for future use for ourselves. For years we had an export rule that forbid the export of oil or gas from the US. Obama cancelled that rule to allow the export of the gas and oil at the request of the oil and gas industry, when they had a major slump in prices.

The oil and gas industry had over produced and caused the drop in prices. Basic economics od supply and demand says over production causes prices to drop.

So now Trump's EPA is wanting to help the oil and gas industries by allowing the auto makers to produce more polluting gas guzzlers.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer-Kissinger
Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.-Swift

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