This week is a big week for environment policy. On Monday, the President's Climate Action Plan celebrated its second birthday. That plan outlines a broad set of regulatory and diplomatic action to cut carbon emissions broadly from small passenger cars to large power plants. On Friday, the Administration could check off another box in their strategy as the U.S. Department of Transportation and the EPA issued the 1,600 page "Phase 2" proposed rule to advance fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for medium and heavy-duty vehicles that was released last Friday afternoon. Those proposed rules kick-in beginning in model year 2021 and are anticipated to reduce carbon emissions by about 1 billion metric tons by 2027.
If there are enormous clean air benefits that would accrue from vehicles sitting on dealer lots, shouldn't California's policymakers consider policies to encourage greater adoption of these vehicles? It seems like an easy answer, but California's policymakers seem to be betting on future and unproven technologies to provide these clean air benefits.
While EPA will be hearing about technologies to meet proposed "Phase 2" fuel economy standards, let's not forget we are already one-and-a-half years into the first ever fuel economy rules, the "Phase 1" standards, for heavy-duty vehicles. Engine and vehicle manufacturers have already developed innovative technologies to further enhance diesel's fuel economy credentials while promoting energy security and greenhouse gas reductions. Between 2014 and 2018, these technologies are expected to save 270 million tons of carbon emissions and 530 million barrels of crude.