Law & Order

Regulators Setting CO2 Emissions Standards for Future Cars and Trucks

Just months after establishing mileage and emissions standards for model year (MY) 2012–2016 cars and light trucks, the Obama Administration has begun work on even stronger rules for 2017 and beyond. Last week, President Obama directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce emissions of conventional pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides. The president also instructed regulators to establish fuel economy and carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks for the first time beginning in MY 2014.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is also pursuing CO2 standards for MY 2017–2025 cars and trucks. CARB intends to coordinate its action with the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with the automakers and other stakeholders, with the goal of setting a single national standard.

Last April, the EPA and NHTSA completed action on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and CO2 emissions standards for light-duty vehicles through MY 2016. The two issues are related since CO2 is released in direct proportion to the amount of carbon-based fuel that is burned. The action matched the CO2 standards previously adopted by California, and recognized that state’s authority to establish its own CO2 standards in the future.

The automakers participated in formulating the SEMA-supported rules since it provided a national approach to regulating CO2 emissions rather than a patchwork of state rules.

Federal regulators intend to issue a “game plan” for MY 2017–2025 light-duty vehicles by September 2010 and adopt a final rule by mid-2012. CARB officials want to complete action on the CO2 standards by the end of 2010.

Questions may be directed to Stuart Gosswein at