California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump

Read the full story in the New York Times.

California’s clean-air agency voted on Friday to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, setting up a potential legal battle with the Trump administration over the state’s plan to reduce planet-warming gases.

Impacts of world class vehicle efficiency and emissions regulations in select G20 countries

Download the document. See also a summary of the study in Environmental Leader.

In 2014, the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan prioritized the establishment of a Transport Task Group (TTG) to promote cooperation among participating G20 countries to develop domestic policies that improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of motor vehicles, particularly heavy-duty vehicles. Led by the United States, the TTG currently includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union (with Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom also participating individually), India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia.

This briefing characterizes the climate and health benefits of adopting world-class standards for new vehicle efficiency/CO2 and conventional pollutant emissions in all members of the G20 TTG. We find that new world-class vehicle efficiency standards applied in all TTG members could mitigate direct emissions from fuel combustion by an additional 2.4 GtCO2 beyond the 2.0 GtCO2 estimated to be avoided in 2040 under existing adopted vehicle efficiency standards. This additional mitigation potential is evenly split between light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). The rate of growth in vehicle populations worldwide—coupled with their cost-effective CO2 mitigation potential (achievable with fuel savings)—indicates that policies to improve vehicle efficiency should be a core component of meeting countries’ climate targets, including INDCs.

For conventional pollutants, we find that implementing world-class emissions standards for LDVs and HDVs in the six TTG members that have not yet implemented these standards could reduce fine particle-related health impacts in these countries by two thirds and avoid 60,000 premature deaths in urban areas alone annually by 2030. Once world-class emissions standards are implemented across all G20 members, we estimate that nearly 90% of new LDVs and HDVs sold worldwide will meet the standards, compared to about only half of new vehicles sold today. These standards will result in additional climate co-benefits by reducing emissions of black carbon, a component of fine particle emissions.

The significant climate and health benefits demonstrated by this analysis bolster the rationale for G20 countries to continue improvements in new vehicle efficiency and lower conventional pollutant emissions from LDVs and HDVs. In particular, given that G20 members account for 90% of new vehicles sold in the world today (and more than 80% for TTG members), TTG members have considerable capacity to transform the global vehicle market and, ultimately, most of the vehicles on the road. The analysis also reinforces the importance of both light- and heavy-duty vehicles in securing future CO2 reductions from on-road vehicles.

Methane Regulation Under Trump: New Administration Looks to Remove Obama-Era Controls

Read the full story at the Climate Law Blog.

Around this time of year, back in 1859, the first oil well was drilled by Edwin Drake in north-west Pennsylvania. After a slow start – drilling initially progressed at a rate of just three feet per day – Drake struck it lucky and hit oil at a depth of 69.5 feet. The oil was brought to
the surface with a primitive hand pump and collected in a bathtub while the associated natural gas escaped into the atmosphere.

A lot has changed in the subsequent 150 years. The oil and gas industry has developed into one of the country’s most technologically advanced, able to drill deeper and access reserves that Drake never would have foreseen. Despite these advances, however, some things have remained the same. To this day, oil drillers still often allow natural gas to escape into the atmosphere, rather than capturing it. Releases also occur during gas production due to accidental leaks, intentional venting, and incomplete flaring at well sites, storage facilities, and transport systems. The Obama Administration had tried to change that, adopting various regulations to reduce gas leaks, venting, and flaring. These regulations are unlikely to survive under President Trump, however. That’s bad news for anyone concerned about climate change. Or the environment and public health more generally.

Rules Frozen by Trump Could Melt Away Without a Trace

Read the full story from ProPublica.

Ridding day care centers of fluorescent lightbulbs with toxic PCBs. Requiring a backup engineer on freight trains to avoid crashes. Restricting drones from flying over people.

Federal agencies were preparing these rules and dozens more when Donald Trump was elected. In one of his first acts, the president quietly froze them. That isn’t unusual. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama signed similar orders.

Unlike in previous administrations, however, this time the proposed rules are long shots to be finished and enacted. Because of “the very clear signals of an anti-regulatory mandate from the president,” they are less likely to be implemented than in prior eras, according to Sally Katzen, a New York University law professor and former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Instead, they may vanish with little or no announcement or explanation. Already, they have disappeared from the main federal website that lists rules in the works.

Five federal agencies contacted by ProPublica said they are reviewing regulations but declined to address specifically the pending rules that were put on hold. A spokesman for the Health Resources and Services Administration said his agency is pursuing “efforts to reduce regulatory burden.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Flood Management, Energy Efficiency Standards Among the “Ghost Rules” Quietly Withdrawn by Trump Administration

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

Shortly after President Trump took office, the White House issued a memorandum imposing a freeze on new and pending regulations. The memorandum directed agencies to delay the effective date of rules that had already been published in the Federal Register and to withdraw regulations that had been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register but not yet published. The purpose of the freeze is to ensure that Trump and his appointees will have the opportunity to review these regulations before they are finalized and take effect.

One significant problem with the regulatory freeze is the lack of transparency with respect to the withdrawn rules. The delayed rules are relatively easy to identify because they were published in the Federal Register – as reported on our Climate Deregulation Tracker, they included energy efficiency and renewable fuel standards. But this is not the case for the withdrawn rules. These so called “ghost rules” were withdrawn from the rulemaking process without any public notice or explanation. Some of them had gone all the way through the rulemaking process – the proposed rule was published, public input was accepted, and the rule was finalized – before being withdrawn. Others were at the proposal stage, which meant that there was no prior proposal published in the Federal Register and no way for the public to view these rules before they were withdrawn.

Union Chief Strikes Back at the ‘Insanity’ of Trump’s Budget Cuts at the EPA

In a Yale e360 interview, John O’Grady, head of the employees’ union at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rips into the Trump administration for its budget-slashing proposal that he says is aimed at destroying the agency that safeguards the nation’s air and water.

Trump freezes Obama-era energy rules

Read the full story in The Hill.

President Trump’s regulatory moratorium expires Tuesday, but not before the administration delayed a half-dozen Obama-era energy standards.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday it is postponing five efficiency rules, including test procedures for walk-in coolers and freezers, central air conditioners, heat pumps and compressors. The agency is also delaying energy conservation standards for ceiling fans and construction standards for federal buildings.

The Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also chimed in Monday delaying new sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.