Group calls on EPA to scrap fuel rule that relied on climate metric

A conservative think tank is calling on the EPA to reconsider its recent rule to increase fuel economy standards, pointing to a court order last week that bars the Biden administration from using a key climate measure.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) yesterday sent a formal request to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on his behalf and on behalf of four individuals, noting that a federal judge has found that a measure used in the rule on vehicle emissions was “probably illegal”.

The letter notes that the December 2021 fuel economy rule was based on a measure of the social cost of carbon that Judge James Cain of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said increased regulatory costs for states. reds who had challenged the metric.

Cain, a Trump appointee, blocked federal agencies from using the formula to craft rules (Greenwire, February 11).

The EPA finalized the fuel economy rule last December. The standards, which apply to vehicles from model years 2023 through 2026, seek to reinstate former President Obama’s greenhouse gas and fuel economy rules for cars and light trucks, which were canceled by former President Trump. Under Obama, automakers were required to increase fuel consumption by 5% per year until 2025. But Trump reduced that rate to 1.5% per year until 2026.

Biden’s rule aims to increase the average fuel economy of new passenger cars and trucks by 10% in 2023, then 5% each year thereafter, for a total of 25% by the 2026 model year The White House said the rule could save about 200 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce carbon pollution by about 2 billion metric tons.

The transport sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, with passenger vehicles spewing out the bulk of the pollution trapping heat.

In the letter, the IEC said the EPA relied on the social cost of carbon estimates from an interagency working group to draft the vehicle emissions rule. He said the EPA had “brought about how the” benefits [of this rule] include reduced impacts of climate change. “

But the letter adds that “if the EPA’s social cost of carbon estimate were corrected in accordance with the court order, it would show total net harm, not benefit.”

The IEC and 14 other groups had flagged what they said were problems with estimating the social cost of carbon as the EPA drafted the emissions rule.

The letter from IEC lawyer Devin Watkins says the court’s decision came after the public comment period on the fuel economy standards closed, but within the time limit for judicial review.

Therefore, Watkins wrote, “we are asking Administrator Regan to convene a rule reconsideration proceeding, as required by law.”

Cain’s decision baffled a number of economists, regulators and lawyers who said they saw serious flaws in the rejection of a metric that has yet to be finalized. The administration’s final greenhouse gas cost figures are expected to be released later this year (Climatewire, February 14).

Those experts said agencies will not be able to use the interim climate measure in regulatory impact analyzes unless and until the Biden administration successfully appeals Cain’s decision.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment late yesterday.

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