Draft plan would freeze auto emissions standards as of 2021

A draft revision of Obama-era auto emissions standards would freeze them starting in 2021, lowering them substantially from current levels. The draft was written by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


EPA told the Washington Post that the draft standards are not final. Once they are, they will  need to be published in the Federal Register for public comment and may be revised again.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a House panel last week that the emissions standards were lowered because the current standards do not account for the changing consumer preference for SUVs and light trucks – exactly NADA’s point on behalf of dealers.


“What’s happened is we’ve created these arbitrary levels that has put a certain sector of cars in the marketplace that no one is purchasing, which means consumers stay in older vehicles, which defeats the purpose of the rule,” Pruitt said.


EPA is also considering revoking California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its own air quality standards, but not its own auto emissions standards. Pruitt said EPA is not planning to revoke the waiver “at this time.” EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) differ on where talks between them stand. California and several other states have said they will sue if forced to comply with weaker national standards.


Twelve states, including Maryland and DC, follow California’s emissions standards, but Virginia does not. If the emissions debate resulted in two sets of standards, that would create a big headache for the many Washington-area dealers who sell to consumers from Maryland and Virginia or from DC and Virginia. They would need two sets of cars in inventory.

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