In a decision which has wide-ranging and potentially negative consequences for the stumbling U.S. economy, the Environmental Protection Agency officially ruled this morning that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.
The final ruling was not surprising given previous public statements of President Obama and his political appointees.
EPA also found that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat.
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 final findings were 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.
While the findings do not impose any emission reduction requirements, they clearly are part of the legal process needed to all allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint-rulemaking with the Department of Transportation.
EPA says on-road vehicles contribute more than 23% of total GHG emissions in the U.S. EPA’s proposed GHG standards for light-duty vehicles, a subset of all on-road vehicles, would reduce GHG emissions, it is claimed, by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles.
The proposed national emissions program would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. The overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2016, if, big if, all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements.