Boyden Gray & Associates filed a comment yesterday on behalf of Urban Air Initiative and Consumers’ Research opposing the EPA’s proposed reinstatement of a waiver for California vehicle emission standards.

The comment argues that the reinstatement of the waiver would be improper because California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards have been amended since the initial waiver was granted without EPA approval. Crucially, in 2018, California altered its greenhouse gas regulations to remove the “deemed to comply” provision.  This change significantly alters compliance costs for car manufacturers without any of the required technical review by EPA.

Further, California can only issue separate standards if those standards meaningfully address its “extraordinary and compelling” air quality problems, the comment explains. But, the comment argues, 

[S]tate carbon dioxide standards do nothing to reduce emissions when sprinkled atop a national fleet-average carbon dioxide standard. Since compliance with national carbon dioxide standards is determined by averaging a manufacturer’s car fleet nationwide, “the increased fuel economy of [California] vehicles would likely be offset by less efficient vehicles produced for sale in the rest of the U.S., leading to little or no change in either fuel use or [greenhouse gas] emissions at a national level.”

The net effect on national or global greenhouse gas emissions from California’s standards is likely zero, at best. More likely it will increase greenhouse gas emissions, due to EPA “multiplier” credits. For each compliant car sold in California, a manufacturer will be able to sell cars that emit more grams of carbon per mile elsewhere in the United States while still meeting the same national fleet-average greenhouse standard.

The full comment is available here. A related comment, filed by the firm last month, opposes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed rescission of its prior interpretation that California’s greenhouse gas regulations and electric car mandates are prohibited by the CAFE statute. That comment can be found here.

Boyden Gray & Associates represents the Urban Air Initiative (UAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving air quality and protecting public health by reducing vehicle emissions. The firm also represents Consumers’ Research, an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers and to promote the freedom to act on that knowledge and understanding.