The EPA Rejected California’s Compromise With Four Automakers On Fuel Efficiency Standards

The EPA Rejected California's Compromise With Four Automakers On Fuel Efficiency Standards
[Photo credit: Sandy Kemsley via Flickr]

Automakers reached an agreement late last month.

New details on the voluntary agreement between the California Air Resources Board and four automakers — BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen — had been rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency last year. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the agency did not consider the plan a “productive alternative.” Currently, the Trump administration seeks to roll back more aggressive Obama-era fuel efficiency requirements, and cap mileage standards at 2020 levels.

CARB submitted the plan to the EPA in November 2018, spokesperson Stanley Young told Bloomberg Friday. Key elements of the plan were also included in then-assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, Bill Wehrum. “Looking back, it seems that they were never interested in negotiations or discussions,” Young said.

CARB and the EPA have spent months in a tense standoff, with each side blaming the other for talks breaking down. In June, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said California’s counteroffer to the agency was not endorsed by governor Gavin Newsom or the state’s attorney general when the state presented it to the EPA. A few weeks later, the White House dropped talks with state officials. “Despite the administration’s best efforts to reach a common-sense solution, it is time to acknowledge that CARB has failed to put forward a productive alternative,” the agency said in a statement.

CARB eases restrictions in new deal

To date, talks have not resumed between the state of California and the EPA to reach some sort of compromise on fuel economy standards. The Trump administration has also considered whether California should be able to set its own standards separate from federal regulations in the first place. Currently, California’s deal with automakers pushes their 2025 fuel economy targets back one year, to 2026. Automakers will be able to reach the targets by selling electric vehicles and earning compliance credits.

According to the Bloomberg report, senior clean-vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists Dave Cooke took issue with the EPA’s position on this issue. “The fact that this was the deal that EPA called not serious is incredible to me. This is a substantial reduction in stringency from the [current] federal program.”