Gas War: California Regulators Say Biden Should Embrace State’s Emission Plan

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While multiple states launch mandatory election recounts and President Trump throws around lawsuits like confetti Joe Biden and the mainstream media are preparing for his ascension from regular old man to Leader of the Free World — though that title doesn’t seem to get much play these days. Biden has already started holding meetings with foreign leaders and experts on how to go about heading the United States. Apparently, there’s even been some progress on how to govern the nation.

On Thursday, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairwoman Mary Nichols said the state’s arrangement with major automakers over fuel efficiency requirements would be ideal for the presumed Biden administration — which has promised to implement some of the most ambitious emissions standards the world has ever seen. Nichols also expressed excitement at the possibility of heading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a Biden presidency and is reportedly under serious consideration for the position.

“I have said that I am very interested, but I think I also just need to make clear that I am interested in volunteering to do anything that is of service to the new administration,” Nichols said in an interview with Reuters.

“[There is] a huge volume of stuff that needs to be reversed and repudiated,” she said of the Trump administration’s EPA, adding that some of the President’s policies could be undone “informally” via “negotiation and good will.”

Despite a prolonged (and rather nasty) political deadlock, the Trump administration finalized its rollback of U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in March. Rules currently require 1.5 percent annual increases in efficiency through 2026 — a concession to appease Democrats angry with the original proposal, although substantially lower than the 5 percent annual increase the Obama administration demanded before being supplanted. Of course, those targets were ultimately deemed unsustainable by the very same people that penned them — which makes us wonder why leadership seems so eager to see them reintroduced. But one could lose their mind wondering why the government is so consistently inconstant.

California and a coalition of supportive states have long been standing against Trump’s national fuel rollback and have vowed to retain the Obama-era rules. Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW even pledged their support (resulting in a brief antitrust suit) and promised to adhere to a higher standard while other manufacturers stayed neutral or sided with the Trump administration’s deregulation strategy.

CARB has long been a proponent of strengthening Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards but has recently pivoted setting hard limits on the types of vehicles that can be sold to the public and encouraging the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. It’s also been trying to export that mindset to the rest of the country, with success often dictated by how much a region’s economy is dependent upon a thriving oil industry.

From Reuters:

Nichols said fuel efficiency requirements should be increased but added: “I don’t think honestly the future of CAFE is the relevant question … This is not where the action is.”

She told Reuters CAFE standards, first adopted as part of a 1975 law, are “not the most relevant tool for dealing with the future of transportation in this country or globally” as the industry shifts away from internal combustion vehicles toward electric and other zero-emissions models. “Our future is not with the internal combustion engine.”

This year, California Governor and lifelike Ken doll Gavin Newsom directed CARB to draft regulations to ban the sale of gasoline-powered passenger cars starting in 2035. While Nichols has said the goal presents real logistical challenges for the state, she believes it’s a policy worth pursuing.

[Image: CC7/]

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