Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
California announced an agreement with a group of automakers which claims to reduce future tailpipe emissions by increasing the mileage performance more than provisions proposed by the Trump Administration as reported in a recent L. A. Times article:
“The agreement between the California Air Resources Board and the automakers — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW — covers about 30% of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. It presents a direct challenge to the Trump administration’s plans, expected to be formally announced later this summer, to roll back tougher tailpipe pollution standards put in place under President Obama.”
“The deal is a voluntary one, under which the companies are committing to produce a fleet of cars nationwide that would meet California’s higher standards, regardless of what the federal government does. The state would not have the legal authority to enforce that.
But the agreement marks a major strategic victory for California in its fight with the administration over tailpipe pollution and efforts to combat climate change because it splits the auto industry coalition that had begged for relief from fuel economy standards in the early days of the Trump administration.”
The U.S. EPA disputes the value of this announced agreement noting:
“But the Environmental Protection Agency, which has spent more than a year working on new, more lenient standards with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, dismissed the agreement.
“This voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said in a statement.”
The agreement relaxes mileage provisions established during the Obama Administration.
“Instead of producing cars that have to reach a minimum of about 50 mpg by 2025 — as the Obama-era standards called for — car manufacturers would have until 2026.”
The reaction from the environmental community was mixed:
“Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said that “in the face of a total abdication of duties by the Trump administration, today’s announcement is a positive step forward.”
But Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign and the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety, said the agreement would result in less than half of the greenhouse gas reductions automakers had agreed to under Obama.”
As the headline of the Times article suggests (spurning Trump) the article dealt more with the papers political battle with President Trump than it did addressing the complicated and highly circuitous requirements of the agreement.
The California automakers agreements regulatory provisions complexity and nuances were addressed more fully in an Orange County Register article as follows:
“California is holding up the whole world with a demand for an increase in gas mileage of 10 miles per gallon.”
“While some reports have made it sound as if four automakers have sided with human survival while the rest favor total extinction, the actual dispute is less dramatic. California is demanding a fleet average mileage standard of almost 50 miles per gallon and the Trump administration wants to keep the current standard of almost 40 miles per gallon.”
“That agreement called for fleet average mileage to increase to above 50 miles per gallon by 2025, but the Trump administration proposed freezing the mileage requirement at the 2020 level of 37 miles per gallon.
This is the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard that has been part of U.S. law since 1975, when it was believed that there was a shortage of oil and only conservation would save humanity from extinction. Decades later, when it turned out that there actually was no oil shortage, the federal government switched to a new rationale for federal regulation of vehicle mileage. Now it’s climate change, and once again, only conservation will save humanity from extinction.”
But the provisions of the California agreement are far from straight forward regarding whether the 50 mile per gallon standard would actually be attained because of an array of “credits” and “advanced technology multipliers” that reduce the mileage target. The article notes:
“California’s deal with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW includes an expansion of “off-cycle credits” for installing non-engine technologies to improve mileage, such as more efficient air conditioners. Some environmentalists think these credits are “a bunch of loopholes,” in the words of Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign. He said California’s agreement with automakers is “probably less than half of the emissions reduction that they committed to” during the Obama administration.”
“The Detroit Free Press reported that the California deal with Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW requires a 3.7% annual increase in the “stringency” of greenhouse gas standards, but allows 1% to be achieved using “advanced technology multiplier credits.”
“Here’s how the newspaper described that part of the deal:
“Appropriate flexibilities to promote zero-emission technology: Continue current advanced technology multipliers that now expire after model year 2021, extending them through model year 2024 at the current 2.0x for Battery Electric and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (BEV/FCEV), and 1.6x for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), tapering off at the current model year 2020 and 2021 levels in model years 2025 and 2026, respectively.”
This crazy and arbitrary complexity is a form of government force, and not only against auto manufacturers. In an earnings call with investors on July 25, Edison International President and CEO Pedro Pizarro said the company is awaiting regulatory approval of its “Charge Ready 2 electric vehicle charging infrastructure program,” which is another way of saying ratepayers are about to get “charged” on their utility bills to support the state’s goal of more electric vehicles on the road.
The calculations and manipulations that go into the enforcement of greenhouse gas emission and mileage standards fill thousands of pages of regulations that are wildly distorting the business decisions of an important industry that employs a lot of people in the United States.
The Trump administration wants a 50-state mileage standard that stays the same after 2020. That’s not unreasonable and it shouldn’t be portrayed as the path to human extinction.”
The article concludes with the following caution regarding the climate alarmist propaganda hyped California automaker agreement:
“If California and the Trump administration can’t reach an agreement on standards, the matter will end up in court and it could be years before automakers have any kind of certainty about how to comply with regulations that affect critical and long-range business decisions.
All the more reason that Californians should look closely at state regulations instead of just assuming that the government knows what it’s doing.”
California government, political and regulatory leaders are falling all over themselves congratulating each other on having negotiated an agreement that has higher increased mileage levels than those proposed by the Trump Administration – with the difference being perhaps 10 miles per gallon by year 2026 for those automakers involved.
These leaders along with the usual climate alarmist propaganda media have hyped this automaker agreement as being required because of its importance in “fighting climate change.” This claim is of course totally wrong and complete rubbish because the world’s developing nations dominate both global energy and emissions outcomes.
By year 2026 EIA forecasts that the developing nations will have increased their CO2 emissions by over 2.2 billion metric tons from present 2018 levels. The CO2 emission reductions nationwide from California’s auto agreement will amount to only about 1% of the worlds developing nations CO2 increase during that period.
This outcome demonstrates that the proposed California automakers deal has no ability to arrest the unrelenting upward climb of global CO2 emissions by the developing nations.
California’s automakers agreement has no role in “fighting climate change.” Claims otherwise are just climate alarmist propaganda political drivel.
The huge global paradigm shift that has occurred with the emergence of the world’s developing nations dominating the planets energy and emissions outcomes establishes that developed nations proposals mandating costly and unnecessary energy and emission schemes because of hyped propaganda claims of “fighting climate change” are invalid and complete bunk.
California’s government media hyped automakers agreement clearly falls in that bunk category.