inFOCUS
Invisibly mixed in with auto exhaust water vapor is a toxic soup of petrochemicals and CO2, some 20 pounds of it per gallon of gasoline.
Invisibly mixed in with auto exhaust water vapor is a toxic soup of petrochemicals and CO2, some 20 pounds of it per gallon of gasoline.

EPA: 50+ MPG Doable

By Bill Moore

200,000 public comments later, including input from nearly 90 stakeholder organizations, the EPA concludes that cars and trucks can get the equivalent of 50+ miles per gallon with minimal contribution of hybrid and electric vehicle technology.

Donald Trump claims to be an avowed "climate skeptic." He's appointing similarly "skeptical" individuals with ties to the fossil fuel industry, including the person who would head the Environmental Protection Agency, originally created by Richard Nixon, the "last liberal President" of the United States, according to Ralph Nader.

Coincidentally and in keeping with federal rules, the EPA released on November 30th, its required "midterm evaluation of its "Proposed Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022-2025 Light Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards".

That document was met with widespread support within the environmental justice movement, including the Sierra Club, who wrote:

“To keep our air clean and our climate safe, we need to put fuel efficiency standards in the fast lane. With transportation now leading as the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., cleaner cars are more important than ever before. The EPA’s proposed decision is the first stop on the roadmap to clean transportation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s draft technical review of the current fuel economy standards shows that these goals are reachable and working -- due to technological innovation, our cars are cleaner and more efficient than ever before. We look forward to strengthening these standards further in the future and cleaning up our dirty transportation sector.”

Other organizations released similar statements of support.

To get a better sense of what these organizations are thinking now in the light of an incoming Administration clearly committed to the interests of the fossil fuel industry and an apparent total lack of appreciation and/or understanding of science, climate or otherwise, I got on the "horn" with Andrew Linhardt, the associate director or federal policy at the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C. I caught him at what sounds like a local coffee shop, given the level of background noise during our conversation.

I first asked him to clarify his understanding of what the EPA announced, given the impression, at least on my part, that the EPA is "sticking to its guns" on fuel economy standards, which the Obama Administration first proposed back in 2012: standards that could see the U.S. automotive fleet average at 54.6 mpg.

As Linhardt explains -- and as the EPA's newly released "Proposed Determination" codifies -- what the agency is proposing isn't miles-per-gallon, but grams of CO2 per mile: 173 g/mi being the "target" for a manufacturer fleet average. That, in turn, can translate into fuel economy as high as 54.6 mpg, though it could be as low as 49.9.
What the EPA learned from it earlier (July 2016) Draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR) is that given the pace of technological innovation between now and 2022, achieving 173 g/mi can be accomplished with minimal utilization of electric hybrid or fully electric vehicle fleet numbers. Technologies for achieving this include turbocharged and downsized gasoline/petrol engines, higher compression ratios, and 8-speed transmissions, along with stop-start and mild-hybridization. Strong hybrids, PHEVs and pure EVs would each represent less than 3% of the fleet.

But what about stories that carmakers are already lobbying the incoming transition team to weaken these standards? Linhardt's understanding is that what Trump's team is saying is that there needs to be more "harmonization" of standards between the federal agencies: EPA and NHTSA.

Importantly, how does the Sierra Club plan to deal with what, for the moment, appears to be throwback administration intent of returning the nation back to the 1950s.. or earlier?

To find out the answers to this and other related questions and concerns, be sure to listen to the entire 18-minute coffee shop conversation using the MP3 player below or by downloading to your favorite MP3 device.

Clearly its going to be an "interesting" next four years for everyone.

Times Article Viewed: 21754
Originally published: 12 Dec 2016

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