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Fuel Economy & Emission Standards

Now that we have both houses Republican dominated, will this have any effect on the implementation of future EPA, fuel economy and auto safety standards?

Unlikely. The EPA pretty much runs itself, without more than oversight by the houses of legislature. That’s been one of my longtime concerns about regulatory agencies, once created they take on a life of their own, largely unfettered by the vetting process of the legislature and largely separate from our rights as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Unless a lawsuit is filed and won in federal court, regulatory agencies pretty much do what they want.

I agree with TSMB. It could limit future changes, but the large changes in the current regs would be hard to affect, because of the Presidential veto.

My dream is that a veto-proof majority passes a law that states “CO2 is not a pollutant and shall not be regulated.” (I know, good luck on that one.)

Before yesterday’s election, the Dems had a slight edge.
Now, the Repubs have a slight edge.

Before the election, little of importance got through the Senate, and the same is likely to hold true after the new members are seated.
Why do I say that?

It’s because the most important bills require a Supermajority (67 votes) for passage, and just as the Dems could rarely round up 67 votes, the Repubs will also have a difficult time getting to 67 “yes” votes.

The fraud, waste, corruption, and sheer idiocy will go on no matter who is ruling the roost.

Without the EPA cheap and dirty would rule the corporate roost.
I breathed the air in China back in 2006, and believe me it was no picnic.
On a “clear” day in Beijing I could look directly at the sun with no discomfort (and no psychadelic drugs involved).

Given that President Bush signed the most comprehensive emissions regs into law for off and on-road engines in the free world, I don’t see any backsliding likely. But that won’t stop some folks from being convinced that the world will turn into Bejing in August since Republicans been voted a majority in both houses.

For reference;

I have no interest in repealing any rules about pollutants including hydrocarbons, NOx, or CO. What I am worried about is poorly-considered (and potentially counter-productive) efforts by the EPA to regulate CO2. We could easily INCREASE global CO2 emissions with bad regs that result in moving manufacturing, refining, etc. out of the US to more-polluting locations, while increasing unemployment and costs here at the same time. Lose-lose-lose. And the car part of that, ever-higher MPGs, could also hurt by increasing car cost or decreasing their usefulness, resulting in keeping old, less efficient cars on the road (think 1970s pollution regs, but with large amounts of reliable older cars available, unlike back then). Massive changes to the very foundation of our economy need to be made VERY carefully.

I disagree completely with SMB. Congress passes laws, the President authorizes them, and the branches of government execute the law. In 2007, Pres. Bush signed the law, passed by both houses of Congress, to raise automobile CAFE to 40 MPG. The EPA can change the way it is calculated, but can’t change the law. Congress could lower fuel economy standards, but I doubt that Pres. Obama would sign it.

Jt, you’re missing a step. Or three. When a major act such as the Clean Air and Water Act is passed, a regulatory agency is created under the direction of the executive branch to create regulations and enforcement protocols to ensure compliance with the law and oversight committees are enacted to oversee the regulatory agency. Unless a politically sensitive regulation is enacted by the agency and a lawsuit is filed challenging the regulation, the oversight committees do little. They’re focused on upcoming issues. Little attention gets given to the actions of the regulatory agency. The agency pretty much runs itself. The agency head, being nominated by the president and approved by the house & senate, is in charge, and he answers directly to the executive branch.

The EPA was badly needed, and, having been to LA in '71, I can testify that they did a great job in their early years. We truly had a serious problem that needed to be addressed.

The problem is that agencies and their agency heads become powerful by growing continuously. They do that by promulgating more and more regulations continuously. Remember that the agency head is a political appointee… a politician focused on becoming powerful and great. The EPA is now IMHO regulating beyond the original “act”, and there’s really no mechanism other than the oversight committee to rein it in. Regulatory agencies only get reined in if they embarrass a powerful committee member.

Note: it is not my intent to direct the thread to a nonautomotive subject, however the fact is that the explanation is pursuant specifically to the original automotive related question. IMHO the change in power in the Senate will have no effect on EPA regulations and/or their impact on automobiles.

My question was about FUTURE regulations; I don’t see any way existing regulations will be changed. CO2 is not a pollutant, and should not be left to the EPA alone to regulate.

Point well made. We weren’t debating the real question.
I don’t see the EPA or NHTSA or D.O.T. to likely be effected by the senate takeover. Other, non-automotive regulations clearly will be IMHO, but not those mentioned.

Although, I heard on the radio today that one of the first initiatives is going to be to submit legislation to approve the Keystone pipeline. If that happens, it could have a ripple effect on the price of gas (down, hopefully) and that could affect the evolution of the EV and hybrid technologies. The current head of the Department of Energy has stated clearly that his agenda is to enact regulations that will drive the price of gas upward, to reduce useage, and oppose anything that might drive the cost down. I suspect he’s had an influence on Obama’s perspective on this issue.

I know, I just disagreed with myself. I guess in short I don’t see a direct effect on EPA and NHTSA/D.O.T. regulations for the future, but there might very well be secondary or tertiary effects.

I expect “relaxing” of EPA regulations will be part of some deal or another as a result of the election. What effect this will have on new car mpg or vehicle emissions requirements, who knows? It’s like playing the slot machines in a casino, you know what the result will be on average, but what happens the next time you pull the arm, who knows?

Of course the change in Congress will have little effect on the EPA. It is a government agency, and the Director serves at the pleasure of the President. Agency directors and department secretaries execute presidential policy. They may not and typically do not create their own policy. If they do, they should be fired. Administrator Griffin of NASA quit because he could not in good conscience execute Pres. Obama’s policy. The last time an administrator or department head created policy was William Casey of the CIA when he created the Iran-Contra trade. He did it because Pres.Reagan repeatedly said that he wished they could do something about the American hostages in Iran, but the president never authorized the work, and apparently had no idea it took place. I did not miss any steps in the process.

On the subject of future regulations, I don’t see anything changing either. Unless it has bipartisan support, Pres. Obama will likely veto it and the Republicans do not have enough Senators to overcome the veto. The Keystone pipeline is a bit different. Last I heard, Pres. Obama said he was in favor of it. In that case, he would sign the legislation if it makes it to his desk. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pass both houses during the next year.

There certainly is a tendency for government agencies to develope into fiefdoms @tsm. And like you I appreciate the EPA’s early successes while I recognize they are now drifting toward being a collection of self proclaimed Generalissimos tossing out edicts and penalties to prove they are powerful but paying little attention to practical solutions to current and future problems.

Before the election, little of importance got through the Senate, and the same is likely to hold true after the new members are seated.

Thank goodness!! This is a feature of our political system, not a flaw.
Some of history’s cruelest tyrants were do-gooders with unfettered power.

Personally, I think the EPA is a bit overloaded with bureaucrats and heavy handed on regulations.
It was just announced that my electric bill will be going up 16 bucks a month due to the EPA.

The coal fired electric plant is about 40 miles from me and the entire area is a wildlife preserve. This plant is clean, conforms to any and all regulations, and there has never been a problem there.
Hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, park and playground, ducks, deer, bald eagles; none of it an issue nor has it ever been.

Our electric company has been fighting with the EPA for several years and now has to make changes that will cost well over a billion dollars.
The reason given by the EPA is that we “might have some haze in the area by the year 2064”.

Here in NH the EPA added an estimated $65M to a road project some years back by forcing a total rerouting because someone saw an eagle’s nest. Of course the eagles never returned… eagles don’t return to the same nest. Nomatter, the EPA had spoken.