In 2012, California, the Obama Administration, and major US automakers agreed (2012 Agreement) to nearly double fuel efficiency fleet-wide by 2025, raising the average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to more than 50 MPG, or roughly 36 MPG in real-world driving. As part of the 2012 Agreement, a midterm review was scheduled to take place for April 2018 to determine the attainability of the final requirements. However, just prior to Obama leaving office in January 2017, US EPA announced it had completed its midterm review with no changes to the 2012 Agreement based on a record supported by a 2015 National Academies study and on the federal agency’s finding that the 2025 standards could be met with both technical and economic feasibility.
In February 2017, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), representing the majority of the automakers who agreed to the higher standards in 2012, wrote a letter requesting US EPA to withdraw its premature midterm determination. In this letter, the Alliance argued that “EPA and NHTSA in 2012 took the unprecedented step of setting joint greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards over a decade in advance for MY 2022-2025 vehicles,” and that US EPA’s commitment to a robust midterm evaluation was abrogated when it issued its final determination early, and without coordinating development of the standards with NHTSA. In March of 2017, US EPA and NHTSA granted the Alliance’s request and announced their intention to reopen midterm review and reconsider the Obama Administration EPA’s final determination that new standards were unnecessary. In response, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) announced it would nonetheless move forward with the greenhouse gas emissions standards set forth in the 2012 Agreement. Continue Reading