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Rulemaking on the Proposed Regulations to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Vehicles

Issue Analysis


Rulemaking on the Proposed Regulations to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Vehicles

Lewis/Kazman Letter to California Air Resources Board

Full Document Available in PDF

California Air Resources Board

PO Box 2815

Sacramento, CA 95812

Attention: Chuck Shulock.

Dear Mr. Shulock,

On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., we are pleased to submit this comment on the Air Resource Board’s (ARB) Final Staff Report on AB 1493, a law requiring ARB to adopt regulations achieving “maximum feasible and cost-effective” reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

This comment has five sections:

·         Section I challenges the scientific basis of AB 1493 and ARB’s regulatory proposal. The balance of evidence lies against the belief in an impending climate catastrophe. Global warming alarmism is based on hyperbole and fear, not science.

·         Section II challenges the legal basis of AB 1493 and ARB’s regulatory proposal. “Maximum feasible” greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions cannot be achieved without mandatory engineering and design modifications to increase new-car fuel economy. However, the federal Energy and Conservation Act of 1975 prohibits States from adopting laws “related to” fuel economy.

·         Section III challenges the economic basis of AB 1493 and ARB’s regulatory proposal. AB 1493 fails a reasonable cost-effectiveness test in two ways. First, even if the theory of catastrophic global warming were true, the emissions reductions achieved by AB 1493 would make no detectable difference in global temperature trends over the next 50 years. As environmental policy, AB 1493 is all cost for no benefit. Second, AB 1493 will raise the sticker price of new cars more than it will lower operating expenses for most consumers.

·         Section IV sounds a cautionary note. Downsizing and down-weighting of cars is the least-costly means of increasing fuel economy and decreasing GHG emissions per vehicle mile traveled. Lighter, smaller vehicles are less crashworthy. Federal fuel economy mandates killed between 1,300 and 2,600 motorists in 1993, according to the National Research Council. To the extent that AB 1493 constrains vehicle size and weight, it will adversely affect auto safety.

·         Section V states our conclusion. ARB cannot achieve “maximum feasible” greenhouse gas reductions from automobiles without poaching on federally preempted policy terrain. It cannot achieve “cost effective” reductions with any set of regulatory tools. ARB should brief Governor Schwarzenegger and the California legislature on the practical and legal impossibility of accomplishing the law’s objectives, and about the adverse safety effects of CO2 emission standards.