California U.S. Senators Call On U.S. To Aggressively Decarbonize Transportation Sector

On Monday, Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pushed the White House to reinstate California’s authority to set greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle standards, to restore national standards that set fuel economy standards at the maximum level possible and to “… set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.”

In a letter to President Biden, the Senators wrote, “… Importantly, California and other states need a strong federal partner.” Further, “We look forward to the coming proposals from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reconsider federal actions by the previous administration.” We support aggressive national standards for greenhouse gas emissions, and … the United States needs to aggressively decarbonize the transportation sector.”

The Biden Administration is likely to seek an increase in fuel economy standards. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said last week during a hearing that he plans to impose a stronger tailpipe emissions rule than several carmakers agreed to under their deal with California regulators as well as stringent rules for commercial trucks and buses.

However, the autos are pushing back.

Last week, the AP reported that a coalition of automakers told the Biden administration it would agree to raise fuel economy standards but with tradeoffs and at rates lower than those brokered by California with five other car manufacturers.

The autos argue that they would rather have a nationwide fuel economy standard than having a California standard that several liberal leaning states would match.

Background: The Trump Administration finalized a rollback of the standards last year to require a 1.5 percent annual increase in fuel efficiency through 2026, far below the Obama Administration’s 5 percent requirement.

The 1.5 percent improvement requirement matches auto manufacturers historic efficiency rate achieved by voluntary technological advancements.

However, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Honda, reached an agreement with California on emissions standards during the Trump Administration which would increase the average fuel economy of their fleets to around 50 miles per gallon by the end of the 2026 in order to appease environmentalists.

Given last week’s news, it is apparent the Biden Administration may attempt to go even further with aggressive CAFE standards which will likely end up in federal court.

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