Washington — Trade groups representing nearly all automakers in the U.S. market have now asked the EPA to refrain from finalizing a rule to slash tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions through 2025 until after President Barack Obama leaves office.
Following a similar move by the Association of Global Automakers on Dec. 7, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include the Detroit 3, filed a petition asking the EPA to withdraw its Nov. 30 proposal to keep the greenhouse gas rule unchanged from when it was made final in 2012.
The tailpipe rule is a key component in the Obama administration's 2011 deal with automakers to align rules governing fuel economy between the EPA, Transportation Department, which oversees Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, and California's Air Resource Board. The rule aims to boost vehicle efficiency to a more than 50 mpg fleet average by 2025.
The EPA proposal to keep its standards intact came several months earlier than expected, prompting accusations that the agency unfairly stymied an ongoing review with automakers over the feasibility of the final four years of the rule, from 2022-2025 and separates the emissions rule from CAFE standards.
In the petition, Alliance CEO Mitch Bainwol called the EPA's move a “stunning change of course” and asked the agency to return to its previous timeline.
“At a minimum, EPA's actions in this matter create the appearance of an agency that is uninterested in a full, open and fair consideration of all data...and that pre-determined the outcome of the Midterm Evaluation before allowing the process to play out as intended,” Bainwol wrote.
The Alliance also asked for more time to comment on the proposal if the agency denies its petition
Earlier this week, the Alliance unsuccessfully tried to convince lawmakers to include language to block the EPA from issuing a final decision on the rule during the Obama administration in an upcoming short-term budget bill.
On De. 7, the Association of Global Automakers also asked the EPA hit the brakes.
“Emissions standards going forward were to be based on a data-driven and objective review in which the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are aligned every step of the way,” Global Automakers CEO John Bozzella said in a statement. “The hasty decision to accelerate the EPA process, taken in the waning days of an Administration, raises serious concerns about the objectivity and factual foundation of their action.”
An EPA spokesman wasn't available for immediate comment.
After a 30-day comment period that began last week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy can make a final determination to leave the standards unchanged, well before an April 2018 statutory deadline.
Extending the deadline could allow President-elect Donald Trump's pick for EPA chief to weigh in on the 2025 rule. Trump plans to tap Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt is an avowed critic of Obama's efforts to curb climate change by regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” Trump said in a statement released by his transition team. “As my EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt … will reverse this trend and restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.”