Automakers push for lower emissions standards

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Monday, March 15, 2021

Automakers are proposing a vehicle emissions standard lower than both the Obama administration’s rates and the deal that California set with five automakers, the Associated Press reports. The standards would be above the Trump administration’s 1.5 percent annual improvement requirement, but would fall short of the 3.7 percent increase under the California deal or the 5 percent set by Obama.

Automakers are also seeking the reinstatement of a “multiplier” that gives them extra credit for selling more electric vehicles, the AP reports. (The Trump rule didn’t continue that provision, instead providing a multiplier only for natural gas vehicles, which are not available in light-duty vehicles in the U.S.)

ME thinks: This may be only the industry’s opening bid, but Biden is going to have a tough time claiming he lived up to his campaign promise of aggressive fuel economy standards if he can’t even get the industry to agree to the 3.7 percent level in the California deal. Environmentalists argue Biden needs to go beyond Obama’s target, so anything less than California’s level is going to leave them screaming. Greens also are not thrilled about flexibilities like the multiplier since they tend to make the program ultimately less effective, though it’s the kind of thing that easily could end up in a final agreement.

One big question: What’s the timeline here? Getting automakers to agree to a program through 2030 would have value — though there’s always the danger that a future Republican president, as Trump did, could throw a wrench in such plans.