At the Auto Show: Dingell Supports EPA's Denial of California Waiver

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 16 Jan 2008 19:38:00 GMT

In a Detroit News piece entitled Dingell tours show; says state-by-state emissions rules would doom carmakers, David Shepardson writes that Dingell fully supported last month’s decision by the EPA to deny the California waiver to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions.

Dingell, D-Dearborn, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said if California got the waiver it could impose conflicting federal and state standards. The California standards could be make automobile production “so expensive that people won’t be able to buy and second of all get so difficult that the companies won’t be able to produce anyhow.”

Dingell said the California system could lead to 50 different standards. He said the EPA decision “makes good sense.”

As has been previously discussed on Hill Heat, the specter of 50 different standards is simply false. Under the Clean Air Act only California has the authority to get waivers from national standards. Other states can then follow California or the federal standards. At most there can be two different standards.

Dingell plans to introduce a climate change bill in his committee “as fast as we can” but wants to exclude the auto industry, arguing that the CAFE standards in the 2007 energy bill are sufficient regulation: “We’ve had everybody else get practically a free ride and auto industry has to come up with a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency,” Dingell said. “We’re going to try to see that the pain is shared equally all around.”

Update: Dingell has issued a clarification of his remarks, stating that he considers CAFE standards to be a “carbon constraint” and that the CAFE standard increase “tightens the cap on automobiles by 40 percent by 2020.” Any carbon cap would entail “further reductions” that would be have to matched by “comparable contributions” by other industries.

Shepardson also reports on an interview with Margo Oge, director of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality. She didn’t expect the agency to issue a formal written denial “until next month at the earliest.” The EPA may be trying to argue that its the EPA press release announcing the denial isn’t actually grounds for a suit to overturn the decision. She also said that the EPA “completed its draft of its own new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” but didn’t provide details.

Fred Krupp, head of Environmental Defense, was also interviewed:
Krupp said he that he and Dingell don’t agree on all issues, but do on the need for a broader climate change.

“He may be the only one that can get a climate change bill,” Krupp said, noting Dingell’s experience in moving large pieces of environmental legislation.

Krupp said he liked the increase in advanced technology vehicles especially in hybrids in broader vehicle lineups. “The fact that the Big Three makers as well as Toyota and others are making these higher mileage options available in everyday cars is terrific,” Krupp said.

Asked about the fact that hybrids still account for just 2 percent of U.S. sales, Krupp noted the growth rate year over year. “I suppose people said initially that very few people were buying Macintosh Apple computers,” Krupp said. “When gasoline prices are $3.50 a gallon, I think you will see growing interest in these options.”

Krupp said there’s “going to be a need for a shared burden” among automakers, oil companies and utilities. They all will have to “belly up to the bar,” Krupp said.

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