In 2010, the first fuel economy standards for 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks (like pickups) for model years 2012 through 2016 were created. In 2011, new standards were set for heavy-duty vehicles like semi trucks, garbage trucks and buses.
Now, they are in the middle of setting fuel economy standards for cars for model years 2017 through 2025. Those proposed standards call for a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Together, the two sets of rules for cars will reduce American oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025 – more than our daily 2010 oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf. They’ll also cut greenhouse gas pollution by more than 6 billion metric tons, and will save owners more than $4000 over the life of their new car. The heavy-duty vehicle regulations will additionally reduce our oil consumption and greenhouse gas pollution.
Status: The first set of rules for cars and the rules for heavy-duty trucks are final. The second set of rules for cars has been proposed, and EPA just finished holding public hearings and accepting comments about them; they have not been finalized yet. But – opponents have sued to stop the first standards. The DC Circuit Court will hear arguments in the case at the end of this month.
Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards and Hazardous Air Pollutant Standards
EPA has proposed new emissions limits for oil and natural gas production and distribution facilities. EPA recognized oil and natural gas production as a major source of toxic air pollution since 1992, and added natural gas transmission and storage as a major source of pollution in 1998. Since that time, technological advances have led to more and different types of oil and gas exploration, especially shale gas production through the controversial process called fracking – but the last time national clean air standards for these processes were updated was 1985 in one instance and 1999 in another. One expert called the current standards “limited, inadequate and out of date.”
Status: EPA issued a draft rule last summer, and finished accepting comments on it at the end of November. They could issue a final rule as soon as this spring.
Greenhouse Gas Standards
EPA is expected to propose standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new or renovated power plants. Under a 2010 court settlement, EPA was supposed to propose the rules last summer, but it missed that deadline.
Adding to the problem is a huge lawsuit that challenges whether EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases at all. After a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court, EPA had to determine whether greenhouse gases posed a threat to human health and welfare. It found they were. Now the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will review that finding and several related issues.
Status: The court will hear arguments at the end of this month and could rule any time after that. If they rule against EPA, the greenhouse gas standards and the fuel standards already in place will be in serious jeopardy. If they rule for EPA, then EPA can continue its work to reduce carbon pollution from the power and other sectors.
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