In his first few days of being in Office, President Obama has already started to show signs of being progressive in his thinking around energy and environmental issues. We have seen early discussions on the potential stimulus bill (which could include significant monies for energy efficiency related projects), there are signs that an energy bill may get a new life, and now this news from his office: EPA is being instructed to move rapidly towards determining the future of Pavley waiver. This waiver would allow states like California to manage (and control) green house gas emissions from new light duty vehicles. This waiver was earlier disallowed by the EPA under the Bush administration.
If states are able to control greenhouse gases (i.e. if CO2 is considered a dangerous gas like the criteria pollutants NOx, SOx, CO etc), then automakers will be forced to not only sell smaller more fuel efficiency cars in these markets, but to also invest heavily in fuel efficient technologies to achieve profitability on smaller vehicles. If this waiver is allowed, there will certainly be a shift in some states to smaller gasoline and diesel vehicles, natural gas engines, and increased sales of hybrids. But this may also promote earlier commercialization of plug-in hybrids and full electric cars. Would the big car companies buy up VC funded smaller electric car manufacturers to put their vehicles on the road and capture CAFE benefits?
(source: Green Car Congress)
Citing two unnamed Administration officials, the New York Times reported Sunday that President Obama will on Monday direct the EPA to move swiftly to reconsider an application by California and, by extension, 13 other states for a waiver to implement greenhouse gas standards on new light-duty vehicles (California AB 1493, the Pavley regulations).
Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process.
In May, the California Air Resources Board issued an addendum to an earlier technical study that shows that California’s clean cars law (the Pavley regulations) could achieve 41% greater total reductions of greenhouse gases nationwide if implemented nationally compared to the recently proposed federal fuel economy standards by 2020. (Earlier post.)
The NY Times report also said that Obama will direct the Department of Transportation to finalize the rulemaking on Corporate Fuel Economy Standards for model years 2011-2015. Although DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had originally anticipated issuing the final rule prior to the end of year, the Bush Administration left office without finalizing the rulemaking. (Earlier post.)