Getting While the Getting Is Good Edition – EPA Emissions Guidelines

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December 2, 2016

Getting While the Getting Is Good Edition –

EPA Emissions Guidelines


car exhaust


In a surprise move, the EPA decided to make up its mind about emissions guidelines and leave them in place:


Surprising isn’t quite the word. Startling? Shocking, perhaps is a better fit. I don’t want to engage in politics in this discussion, but at the same time, this reeks. Glaciers have historically moved faster than our government. But why does this seem so sudden?


Back in July, the EPA—along with the California Air Resource Board (CARB)—found that the fleet-wide target of 54.5 MPGs on vehicles was not being supported by consumer demand. Most consumers want trucks, SUVs or crossovers these days, which have lower MPGs than sedans.


The Obama administration also realized that it had missed the mark by stating that the market conditions were different in 2012 than 2016. With the President and the EPA sort of realizing that maybe they aimed a bit high—yes, I’m being generous in my assessment—it seemed that a reasonable agreement on MPG and emissions could be reached with industry input. The EPA had until 2018 to reach its decision, but stated its decision would be ready in 2017. It’s still 2016. So, like I said above, government agencies don’t move that fast. So what gives?


It isn’t like the market has changed any in the last six months. The sedan market is still in its long, drawn out death while trucks, SUVS and crossovers are still rising. Don’t believe me? Look at the LA auto show, which wrapped last week. And fuel is still relatively cheap and looks like it will remain so, which means the consumer will continue to buy trucks and SUVS. Barring an energy catastrophe, the trend isn’t going to change anytime soon.


The EPA however says that its data shows the auto industry can make the 54.5 MPG target without a significant increase in cost and that, in fact, they could recommend tighter controls but in their magnanimousness, but since automakers are already working towards those standards, they will just leave it the same. I don’t buy it.


I don’t buy it because our cars in the U.S. are among the cleanest in the world. We can tighten our regulations all we want, but we can’t govern Chinese car emissions. I also don’t buy it because flying releases much more greenhouse gasses into the environment than driving.


The argument for CAFE is that we need government to force—note the operative word—companies to do the right thing. I disagree because the checkbook dictates what companies will do and how they will perform. If consumer A wants a high MPG vehicle and Company A produces a 30 MPG vehicle and Company B offers a similar quality vehicle with 35 MPGs, Consumer A will buy Company B’s product. If this happens enough times, Company A will realize that it needs to improve its vehicle efficiency to capture the consumer dollars from Company B. Company A makes their vehicle more efficient and then Company B does too, to keep its consumer dollars.


So no, we don’t need government to force companies to do the right thing. (Unless, of course, both companies collude to make an inferior product, which is a different discussion. But let’s be honest, the government would only want its share of that collusion anyway, but I digress.)


But what do you think? Is this a case of the EPA getting while the getting is good?


Post your comments on Twitter @LaurenFix





Final Thought:


If you though the boot was bad for parking “crimes” wait until you see this:


The Barnacle covers the windshield of a parking criminal’s car making it unsafe to drive. Moreover, the Barnacle makes a beeping noise if a driver tries to drive with the device on the windshield by say, rolling down a window. The Barnacle also will not come off until a fine is paid and a release code is entered. Adding insult to injury, the criminal driver must then drop the thing off within 24 hours (or probably face more fines given our government).


I guess, if you had windshield insurance you could just break the windshield—which I don’t condone or recommend—remove the windshield and Barnacle and have the windshield replaced. But that workaround is almost as laborious as prosecuting this crime.


Post your comments on Twitter @LaurenFix


Love Your Car! See you next week!


–Lauren Fix



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