</div> </div> <p>Last week, the Trump administration laid out its <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-08/documents/safe-my-2021-2026-cafe-ld-ghg-nhtsa-epa-nprm-2018-08-02.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-08/documents/safe-my-2021-2026-cafe-ld-ghg-nhtsa-epa-nprm-2018-08-02.pdf">long-anticipated plan</a> to roll back fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles sold between 2021 and 2025. In short, the administration is proposing to freeze the standards at 2020 levels instead of maintaining the more ambitious schedule of improvements through 2025 set forth by the Obama Administration. It is also planning to revoke California’s Clean Air Act Preemption Waiver, thereby prohibiting the state from setting its own greenhouse gas emission standards and maintaining other related policies such as zero emissions vehicle mandates.</p> <p>Without question, the proposal represents an important shift in U.S. energy and climate policy. Some have even suggested that this rollback is likely the Trump Administration’s <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/climate/trump-climate-emissions-rollback.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/climate/trump-climate-emissions-rollback.html">most significant climate policy rollback to date</a>. The impending court battle over California’s waiver is perhaps the most consequential element—if the Trump administration prevails in the now more right-leaning Supreme Court, the state could lose its current authority to set independent vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards.</p> <p>But as opponents of the proposal <a href="https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2018/08/07/stories/1060092957" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2018/08/07/stories/1060092957">gear up for a fight</a>, it is worth asking what specifically they hope to gain. The truth is that nothing we have done so far as a society has cracked the code on addressing carbon emissions in transportation, even as the case for doing so has become <a href="https://www.vox.com/2016/6/13/11911798/emissions-electricity-versus-transportation" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.vox.com/2016/6/13/11911798/emissions-electricity-versus-transportation">radically stronger</a>. Rather than engage in a heated battle over the final phase of the Obama-era standards, the timing may be right to begin exploring alternative policies.</p> <p> </p> <p>First, how much will the administration’s proposal actually affect oil use? My back-of-the-napkin analysis suggests that freezing the standards at 2020 levels will result in U.S. oil demand that is 0.7 million barrels per day (mbd) higher in 2035 than would have been the case under the original Obama rules. That lines up closely with <a href="https://rhg.com/research/the-biggest-climate-rollback-yet/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://rhg.com/research/the-biggest-climate-rollback-yet/">this analysis</a> by the consulting firm the Rhodium Group, which finds that the increase could be slightly higher or much lower depending on oil prices.</p> <p>But, as I have <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/ucenergy/2017/04/03/industry-and-environmentalists-can-both-win-on-fuel-economy-heres-how/" target="_self" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="InternalLink:https://www.forbes.com/sites/ucenergy/2017/04/03/industry-and-environmentalists-can-both-win-on-fuel-economy-heres-how/">written before</a>, large portions of the benefits of the Obama standards were captured in the early years due to the relative inefficiency of the fleet back in 2011. Therefore, while 0.7 mbd sounds substantial, it is less so when you consider that the rules were projected to save roughly 4.0 mbd by 2035. Thus, the Trump rollback could realistically leave 80 percent of the originally-projected savings in place nearly two decades from now.</p>
<p>Some may counter that the later year standards were important, because they contained bonus incentives for automakers to invest in electric vehicles—forcing the U.S. auto industry to develop the technology needed to be competitive in the future, while also addressing climate change. But is it really the federal government’s job to ensure that the U.S. auto industry makes the necessary investments to be competitive? It’s hard to imagine why that would be the case. As <a href="https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1060092785/search?keyword=knittel" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1060092785/search?keyword=knittel">others have noted</a>, market and policy dynamics in other countries will almost certainly ensure that the technology is ultimately developed, with or without U.S. manufacturer investments.</p> <p>Others have argued that the rollback will lead to dirtier air and should be opposed in part on those grounds. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an <a href="https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/regulations-smog-soot-and-other-air-pollution-passenger" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/regulations-smog-soot-and-other-air-pollution-passenger">entirely separate regime</a> for regulating conventional air pollution from vehicles, and those levels have been falling for decades. The Obama EPA itself noted in the original rule analysis that, “our modeling indicates that there will be very small changes in ambient ozone and PM2.5 concentrations across most of the country.”</p> <p>Could California save the day by ultimately prevailing in court and setting extremely aggressive standards that would apply there and in more than a dozen other states? Even that notion is dubious, as there is good reason to believe such a bifurcated system would ultimately <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/ucenergy/2018/06/25/california-is-threatening-to-go-its-own-way-on-fuel-economy-it-might-have-zero-impact-on-emissions/#4ceb68de22bf" target="_self" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="InternalLink:https://www.forbes.com/sites/ucenergy/2018/06/25/california-is-threatening-to-go-its-own-way-on-fuel-economy-it-might-have-zero-impact-on-emissions/#4ceb68de22bf">provide no carbon benefits</a>.</p> <p>Rather than dig in farther to save the tighter Obama standards for minimal gain, it is time to begin working to demonstrate and implement more efficient policies. Such a shift would start with the recognition that top down mandates like fuel-economy standards are not capable of delivering the carbon reductions we need. Because they only affect the efficiency of new vehicle purchases instead of total consumption, their ability to cut fuel use is inherently limited, and their fuel savings and emissions reductions come at a relatively high cost—<a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.5.2.148" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.5.2.148">three to six times higher than the cost of gasoline tax</a>.</p> <p>Future transportation-energy policy must instead be far more focused on transparently incorporating the costs of our carbon use into economic decisions and letting the market work to deliver the most cost-effective emissions reductions. Importantly, scientific and economic analysis have greatly advanced our understanding of the social cost of carbon emissions over the past several years. The Obama Administration originally pegged the social cost of emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide in 2017 at roughly $26. But <a href="https://epic.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/CIL_Mortality_Research_Summary_v03_0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://epic.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/CIL_Mortality_Research_Summary_v03_0.pdf">new research published just last week</a> finds that the damages due to increased heat-related mortality alone are currently $39 per tonne. As additional economic and social sectors are <a href="http://www.impactlab.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.impactlab.org/">analyzed</a>, our understanding of the social cost of carbon will continue to improve.</p> <p>Using this figure, continuously updated, to guide market activity through a direct tax or cap-and-trade program would yield far more effective carbon reductions than fuel economy standards. Of course, a fair response is that such policies are politically difficult, and the current environment is not conducive to their implementation. But there are also reasons to be slightly more optimistic. A number of <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060089315" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060089315">carbon tax proposals</a> have surfaced over the past year, some led by Republicans in Congress. And there is some progress at the local level as well.</p> <p>In fact, California, whose cap and trade program now includes <a href="https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/guidance/facts_fuels_under_the_cap.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/guidance/facts_fuels_under_the_cap.pdf">transportation fuels</a>, could serve as a model for exactly this kind of approach. But by preserving a web of overlapping programs, such as its own fuel-economy standards and technology mandates, it will deeply undermine firms’ ability to seek out the lowest cost emissions reductions.</p> <p>Vehicle efficiency standards have been a cornerstone of U.S. energy policy since the 1970s. But their ability to address the large and growing challenge of carbon emissions in transportation is increasingly limited. It is time for policy advocates at the state and national level to begin to focus on building support for—and implementing—more effective policy.</p>”>
Remaining week, the Trump management laid out its long-anticipated plan to roll again gas potency requirements for passenger automobiles offered between 2021 and 2025. Briefly, the management is proposing to freeze the criteria at 2020 ranges as a substitute of keeping up the extra formidable agenda of enhancements thru 2025 set forth by way of the Obama Management. It is usually making plans to revoke California’s Blank Air Act Preemption Waiver, thereby prohibiting the state from atmosphere its personal greenhouse fuel emission requirements and keeping up different linked insurance policies akin to 0 emissions automobile mandates.
With out query, the proposal represents crucial shift in U.S. calories and local weather coverage. Some have even instructed that this rollback is most likely the Trump Management’s most vital local weather coverage rollback thus far. The approaching courtroom combat over California’s waiver is possibly essentially the most consequential component—if the Trump management prevails within the now extra right-leaning Ultimate Court docket, the state may just lose its present authority to set impartial automobile greenhouse fuel emission requirements.
However as combatants of the proposal tools up for a combat, it’s value asking what particularly they hope to achieve. Actually that not anything now we have performed as far as a society has cracked the code on addressing carbon emissions in transportation, even because the case for doing so has transform radically more potent. Relatively than interact in a heated combat over the overall segment of the Obama-era requirements, the timing could also be appropriate to start exploring selection insurance policies.
First, how a lot will the management’s proposal in reality have an effect on oil use? My back-of-the-napkin research means that freezing the criteria at 2020 ranges will lead to U.S. oil call for this is zero.7 million barrels consistent with day (mbd) upper in 2035 than would had been the case beneath the unique Obama laws. That traces up carefully with this research by way of the consulting company the Rhodium Workforce, which reveals that the rise may well be relatively upper or a lot decrease relying on oil costs.
However, as I’ve written sooner than, huge parts of some great benefits of the Obama requirements had been captured within the early years because of the relative inefficiency of the fleet again in 2011. Subsequently, whilst zero.7 mbd sounds considerable, it’s much less so whilst you imagine that the principles had been projected to avoid wasting more or less four.zero mbd by way of 2035. Thus, the Trump rollback may just realistically depart 80 p.c of the originally-projected financial savings in position just about twenty years from now.
Some would possibly counter that the later 12 months requirements had been essential, as a result of they contained bonus incentives for automakers to spend money on electrical automobiles—forcing the U.S. auto trade to increase the generation had to be aggressive at some point, whilst additionally addressing local weather trade. However is it in point of fact the government’s task to make sure that the U.S. auto trade makes the vital investments to be aggressive? It’s exhausting to believe why that will be the case. As others have famous, marketplace and coverage dynamics in different nations will virtually undoubtedly make sure that the generation is in the long run evolved, without or with U.S. producer investments.
Others have argued that the rollback will result in dirtier air and will have to be hostile partially on the ones grounds. However the U.S. Environmental Coverage Company (EPA) has an fully separate regime for regulating typical air air pollution from automobiles, and the ones ranges had been falling for many years. The Obama EPA itself famous within the authentic rule research that, “our modeling signifies that there will probably be very small adjustments in ambient ozone and PM2.five concentrations throughout lots of the nation.”
May California save the day by way of in the long run prevailing in courtroom and atmosphere extraordinarily competitive requirements that will observe there and in additional than a dozen different states? Even that perception is doubtful, as there may be just right explanation why to consider any such bifurcated machine would in the long run supply no carbon advantages.
Relatively than dig in farther to avoid wasting the tighter Obama requirements for minimum acquire, it’s time to start running to reveal and put into effect extra environment friendly insurance policies. Any such shift would get started with the popularity that high down mandates like fuel-economy requirements aren’t able to handing over the carbon discounts we’d like. As a result of they simply have an effect on the potency of latest automobile purchases as a substitute of general intake, their talent to chop gas use is inherently restricted, and their gas financial savings and emissions discounts come at a moderately top charge—3 to 6 occasions upper than the price of gas tax.
Long term transportation-energy coverage should as a substitute be way more considering transparently incorporating the prices of our carbon use into financial choices and letting the marketplace paintings to ship essentially the most cost-effective emissions discounts. Importantly, clinical and financial research have a great deal complex our figuring out of the social charge of carbon emissions during the last a number of years. The Obama Management initially pegged the social charge of emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide in 2017 at more or less $26. However new analysis printed simply closing week reveals that the damages because of higher heat-related mortality by myself are these days $39 consistent with tonne. As further financial and social sectors are analyzed, our figuring out of the social charge of carbon will proceed to reinforce.
The usage of this determine, steadily up to date, to steer marketplace process thru an instantaneous tax or cap-and-trade program would yield way more advantageous carbon discounts than gas economic system requirements. In fact, a good reaction is that such insurance policies are politically tricky, and the present setting isn’t conducive to their implementation. However there also are causes to be relatively extra constructive. Plenty of carbon tax proposals have surfaced during the last 12 months, some led by way of Republicans in Congress. And there may be some growth on the native degree as smartly.
In truth, California, whose cap and commerce program now contains transportation fuels, may just function a fashion for precisely this type of method. However by way of conserving a internet of overlapping systems, akin to its personal fuel-economy requirements and generation mandates, it is going to deeply undermine corporations’ talent to hunt out the bottom charge emissions discounts.
Car potency requirements had been a cornerstone of U.S. calories coverage because the 1970s. However their talent to deal with the huge and rising problem of carbon emissions in transportation is an increasing number of restricted. It’s time for coverage advocates on the state and nationwide degree to start to concentrate on construction fortify for—and enforcing—more practical coverage.