Friday, January 01, 2010

Endangerment Finding & Light Duty Truck Mileage Standards

On December 7, 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa Perez Jackson, left, signed the Endangerment Finding regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

Endangerment Finding: The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)--in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

The finding does not in itself impose any requirements on industry or other entities. However, this action is a prerequisite to finalizing the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles, which were jointly proposed by EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration on September 15, 2009.

Background: On April 2, 2007, in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. The Court held that the Administrator must determine whether or not emissions of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision.

Proposed Rulemaking: Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards: On September 15, 2009, EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an historic National Program that would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy for new cars and trucks sold in the United States.

The combined EPA and NHTSA standards that make up this proposed National Program would apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2016. They require these vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon (MPG) if the automobile industry were to meet this carbon dioxide level solely through fuel economy improvements. (EPA Endangerment, EPA Regulations)

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