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Posts Tagged ‘environmental protection agency’

Drivers Claim Fuel Economy Numbers are Too Low

Study shows owners get better results with personal vehicles.

by on Jun.17, 2015

A recent study shows that consumers don't have much faith in the mileage ratings on new vehicle window stickers.

With the number of times automakers have had to restate the fuel economy figures for new vehicles, it’s no wonder a recent study finds Americans are skeptical about the mileage numbers slapped on the window stickers of new cars and trucks.

However, the reason for skepticism is a bit surprising: a substantial number of buyers doubt the reported numbers because their personal vehicles outperform the figures on the official fuel-economy labels.

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A new AAA survey indicated that a third of Americans do not believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new vehicle window sticker accurately reflects the fuel economy they achieve when driving. (more…)

EPA New Vehicle Mileage Gains Slowing Down

Agency notes light truck sales driving downward slide.

by on Oct.09, 2014

Trucks are hot sellers these days, in part because they are getting better gas mileage than ever.

Using lighter materials, turbochargers and other methods, automakers are taking to make new cars and trucks more fuel efficient continue to pay off as the gas mileage average in the U.S. hit a record 24.1 miles per gallon last year.

Tempering that good news is the fact that the year-over-year gains are slowing, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 2013 result was 0.5 miles per gallon better than 2012, but was significantly less than the 1.2-mpg improvement from 2011 to 2012.

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However, due to a sales increase in full-size pickups and SUVs this year, the agency is predicting a much smaller improvement from 2013 to 2014: 0.1 mpg. Sales of light trucks are up 16.5% this year and account for 51.3% of overall sales through September. Last year, they were 49.3% of overall sales. Conversely, car sales have risen just 2.3%, according to Autodata. (more…)

EPA Says Climate Change Real. Rejects Challenges

EPA's human health endangerment finding stands. Unknown, costly regulatory consequences for U.S. economy will ensue.

by on Jul.29, 2010

CO2 reduction is no walk in the park for auto makers or thus far unsuspecting consumers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied ten petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real and is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. This threatens human health and the environment.

The latest decision, which has wide-ranging and potentially huge negative consequences for the stumbling U.S. economy, confirms a previous EPA ruling that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.

Since virtually all vehicles for the near or longer term will burn fuels that cause large amounts of GHGs, more stringent fuel economy standards are inevitable. This will affect the types, sizes and cost of vehicles – in ways yet unknown — that you will be able to buy.

EPA’s Greenhouse Gas findings were initially issued in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. Prior to that, under Republican Administrations, the EPA did not take regulatory action to deal with the controversial problem.

Both the previous and today’s EPA position were not surprising given previous public statements of President Obama and his political appointees at EPA. (See EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Threaten Health)

The petitions to reconsider EPA’s Endangerment Finding claimed that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

EPA has just said in a statement that after months of “serious consideration” of the petitions and of the state of climate change science, that it finds no evidence to support these claims.

In fact, EPA’s review shows that climate science is “credible, compelling, and growing stronger.”


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“The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world.  These petitions — based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy — provide no evidence to undermine our determination.  Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.


London Congestion Charge under Review

Design regulation exempting hybrids is outdated and unfair.

by on May.27, 2010

If you exempt too many vehicles, congestion increases. Why should any be exempt?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has proposed changing the congestion charge exemption to include cars with conventional engines that emit low levels of CO2, in many cases lower than the hybrid or alternate fuel vehicles currently benefiting from taxpayer largess.

Under the current rules, the Alternative Fuel Discount gives drivers of alternative fuel and hybrid cars a 100% discount in London’s £8 Congestion Charge. (See London Congestion Policy Excludes Clean Cars?)

Under the Mayor’s new “Greener Vehicle Discount” proposal, any car registered after 1 January 2011 that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and meet the Euro V standard for air quality will be exempt.

In addition, and as a way of encouraging more electric cars, the same exemption will apply to full battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

Volvo had questioned what place an emissions discount had in a congestion charge at all, not without self interest of course.  Then, Volvo lobbied that when a discount exists, there should fairness so that it did not bias one particular technology over another.

Volvo already offers a sub-100g/km Volvo C30 Sports Coupe. It has also shown a V70 wagon with plug-in hybrid technology that emits less than 50g/km CO2 – this technology will be launched in 2012 – and prototype versions of a full battery-electric C30.


London Congestion Policy Excludes Clean Cars?

When will politicians learn the folly of their fondness for design regulations as opposed to performance ones?

by on Dec.21, 2009

If you exempt too many vehicles, congestion will increase. And why should any be exempt?

It is a mistake that policy makers keep repeating: By imposing a standard that stipulates a design, rather than one that defines the performance or outcome desired, innovation is stifled and the often-beneficial effects of competition are eliminated.

The latest example of this folly comes from the often-gridlocked streets of London where a Congestion Charge actually discourages vehicles that are cleaner and more efficient than the ones the regulation exempts. The driver of a hybrid vehicle can travel within the so-called Congestion Charge zone free-of-charge while the driver of a similar, or even lower, carbon dioxide emitting conventional internal combustion-powered car is charged £8.

This “tax” could add a financial burden of over £2,000 per year to those drivers who select a traditionally powered low emission car. Not good if you are the driver. Not bad if you are collecting the revenue.

Tax collector or environmentalist?

Small wonder then that Volvo, not without self-interest of course, is calling on The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to publish the findings of the review of the Congestion Charge exemptions that he promised to deliver before the end of 2009.

Johnson was a bit busy last week hob-knobbing with many other government grandees in Copenhagen at taxpayer expense discussing the various, expensive, approaches that need to be  imposed on you and me to ameliorate the possibly pernicious effects of man-made carbon dioxide emissions on the global climate.


I do not believe this regulatory problem of unintended consequences and perverse effects came up while Johnson was boasting about the wonderful benefits of the Congestion Zone, but it should have because it raises many, well, inconvenient truths about economic and free market behaviors that need to be at the heart of any global warming regulatory debate. (more…)

EPA Grants California’s Waiver Request for Separate Emissions Standards

Latest defeat for the auto industry could create administrative chaos and severely restrict your new vehicle choices.

by on Jun.30, 2009

EPA Adminstrator Jackson

The Obama appointee claimed the waiver is appropriate and consistent with previous interpretations of the Clean Air Act by EPA.

At least 13 other states and the District of Columbia have said that they intend to follow California in instituting tougher standards than previously called for under federal regulation. Since these areas comprise about 40% of new car sales, it is possible that California legislators and bureaucrats will determine the size and types of cars that you can buy after 2016.

The first California waiver request was made in December 2005 under the Bush Administration and was subsequently denied in March 2008. This previous decision was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act finding that California did not have a need for its greenhouse gas emission standards to meet “compelling and extraordinary conditions,” EPA said in a statement defending the reversal of this previous policy ruling.

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“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. The Obama appointee claimed the waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it’s been used for the last 40 years. 

“More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year,” she said.

While automakers dependent on government support and others observing the “bully pulpit” that the administration has used to shape the debate on automotive matters have been cowed into public silence, auto dealers, many them small business owners with Republican ties, are more vocal in their opposition.

“EPA’s decision to reverse its 2008 denial of California’s request for a pre-emption waiver is sadly a triumph of politics over good common sense,” said John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “Moreover, with its action today, the Obama administration has effectively ceded the long-term setting of national fuel economy standards to unelected California regulators,” he added.

Just after taking office in late January, President Barack Obama directed EPA to assess the appropriateness of denying the waiver. EPA received a letter from California on January 21, 2009, raising several issues for Administrator Jackson to review regarding the denial.

Last month, President Obama announced a first-ever national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. The new standards would cover model years 2012-2016. Cars and light trucks must average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, about 40% higher than today. Congress in 2007 passed a 35 mpg requirement by 2020. The accelerated time table will add thousands upon thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car critics say.


EPA Releases National Assessment of Toxic Air Pollutants. All Americans Face Unacceptable Risks. Diesel Exhaust Cancer Hazard is Not Addressed?

The latest estimates of health risks from breathing toxic air in the United States are based on 2002 data. Can we do better?

by on Jun.24, 2009

2002 NATA Cancer Risk

EPA estimates that all 285 million U.S. residents have increased cancer risk at unacceptable levels. Move to North Dakota? Click on map to enlarge.

The wheels of government turn ever so slowly. The Environmental Protection Agency has just released the latest version of what it calls “a state-of-the-science tool” that estimates health risks from breathing air toxics in the United States.

The National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), based on 2002 air emissions data, helps federal, state, local and tribal governments identify areas and specific pollutants for further evaluation to understand risks they may pose.

The EPA estimates that all 285 million U.S. residents have an increased cancer risk of greater than ten in a million from exposure to air toxics. The average cancer risk, based on 2002 pollution levels, is 36 per million. Levels above a 100-in-a-million risk are “generally unacceptable.”  And that includes two million Americans.

This means that, on average, approximately 1 in every 27,000 people would contract cancer as a result of breathing air toxics from outdoor sources, if they were exposed to 2002 emission levels over the course of their lifetime. What has happened since then is not covered in the study.

EPA says that air toxics are of concern because they are known to, or are suspected of, causing cancer and other serious health problems, including birth defects. The report assessed 80 air toxics, plus diesel particulate matter from stationary sources and from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment.

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The latest study avoids dealing with a critical policy issue regarding diesel engines — whether diesel exhaust particulate matter causes cancer — at the very time car and policy makers are trying to figure out how to decrease CO2 emissions and increase fuel economy.


Rose Garden Ceremony Proclaims New Auto Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Policy

The President demonstrates his powers of persuasion and the collapse of auto industry influence.

by on May.19, 2009

President Obama at a Townhall meeting

In an historic first, the projected reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions sets in motion a policy that says it's America's desire to deal with global warming after decades of denial.

For followers of the auto emissions and fuel economy wars that have been going on for five decades now, the announcement today by President Barack Obama that one “National Fuel Efficiency Policy” is decreed is a clear turning point in America’s growing interest in cleaning the air we all breathe.

It is also a stark demonstration of the growing inability of the auto industry to promote its own narrow self-interests to the detriment of the larger public good.

The proposed National Fuel Efficiency Policy adopts uniform federal standards to regulate both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions while preserving the legal authorities of the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California and 13 other States, according to the President.

The fuel efficiency program covers new vehicle model years 2012 to 2016, and ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016. An estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil will not be used by vehicles bought over the five-year life of the program — over an unspecified lifetime of each vehicle. The fuel economy gains of more than 5% per year would have once been unthinkable in lobbyist-dominated Washington.

In an historic first, the projected reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions sets in motion a policy that says it’s America’s desire to deal with global warming after decades of refusing to do so. The 35.5 in 2016 is equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road or shutting down 194 coal plants, according to the Administration.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comThe key component in this reduction is the increase in the average mileage requirement from new vehicles that leaves as road kill the existing CAFE law passed by Congress and President Bush in 2007. Back then, under heavy auto industry lobbying, the bill only required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.

“In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” said President Obama. “That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”  (more…)

Midas Muffler Fined for Toxic Substance Violations

Shop reaches $9,300 settlement with EPA for PCBs in used oil.

by on May.08, 2009

Midas Muffler Franchise Store

No longer is the EPA just pursuing large and flagrant violators such as General Electric.

If you have ever wondered why a “disposal fee” is increasingly tacked on to your auto repair bill, all you have to do is look at the enforcement the Environmental Protection Agency is doing against businesses that flout the law and endanger public safety. No longer is the EPA just pursuing large and flagrant violators such as General Electric, but it is now stepping up monitoring of smaller businesses that TDB readers deal with.

The latest such example occurred in Bellevue, Washington, where a Midas Muffler shop has reached a $9,300 settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve alleged, violations of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) related to the mishandling of PCBs.

The PCB problem was initially discovered by an oil recycling company in Seattle, who received a shipment of 150 gallons of used oil from Midas in Oct. 2007. Midas did not inform the recycler that the used oil contained PCBs. When the recycler tested the oil and found that it was contaminated with PCBs, they notified EPA. The company was forced to dispose all of the used oil as PCB-contaminated fluid.

According to Daniel Duncan, EPA’s regional PCB program coordinator in Seattle, facilities that handle used oil that may contain PCBs need to have proper testing, notification, storage, shipping, and disposal practices and follow their obligations under TSCA.   (more…)

President to USDA: Expand Access to Biofuels Now

Agricultural Department has 30 days to get the money flowing.

by on May.05, 2009


At the very least, the President is attempting to channel the huge taxpayer financed subsidies of agribusiness in a way that helps national security.

President Obama issued a directive this morning to Secretary Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “aggressively accelerate the investment in and production of biofuels,” by making use of renewable energy financing opportunities from the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 available within 30 days.

The order is an attempt by the President to make the U.S. completely free from importing foreign oil. It is also the beginnings of a transition away from corn-based ethanol to advanced bio fuels, as well as an attempt reduce greenhouse gas emissions that the EPA has identified as harmful. The estimated costs of the latest moves were not disclosed.

“President Obama’s announcement today demonstrates his deep commitment to establishing a permanent biofuels industry in America,” said Vilsack. “Expanding our biofuels infrastructure provides a unique opportunity to spur rural economic development while reducing our dependence on foreign oil — one of the great challenges of the 21st century.”

Vilsack also announced that he will help lead an interagency effort to increase America’s energy independence and spur rural economic development.

TheDetroitBureau.com was on a conference call with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary Vilsack when the announcement was made. 

This looks to be the beginnings of a promised comprehensive energy policy that will cut across the vast federal bureaucracy to take back control of U.S. energy use from off-shore based sources that are clearly not our friends. At the very least, it is an attempt to channel huge taxpayer subsidies of agribusiness in a way that helps national security. The President, thus far, has been unsuccessful at trimming such politically popular subsidies, even as the national debt reaches monstrous, unsustainable proportions of the gross domestic product. (more…)