The committee’s recommendations are summarized below by topic. Preceding each set of recommendations is a brief summation of the important findings and conclusions leading to the recommendations. Chapter numbers are listed to show where information can be found that supports the committee’s conclusions.
The original reasons for which Congress authorized California to have a separate set of standards remain valid. California’s authority to set its own mobile-source emissions standards inevitably imposes additional risks and costs, such as design, production, and distribution costs, though the costs and benefits are difficult to quantify. However, experience to date indicates that the California program has been beneficial overall for air quality by improving mobile-source emissions control (Chapters 2, 3, 6 and 7).
California should continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards. The role will aid the state’s efforts to achieve air quality goals and will allow it to continue to be a proving ground for
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions 8 Recommendations The committee’s recommendations are summarized below by topic. Preceding each set of recommendations is a brief summation of the important findings and conclusions leading to the recommendations. Chapter numbers are listed to show where information can be found that supports the committee’s conclusions. CALIFORNIA’S ROLE IN MOBILE-SOURCE EMISSIONS REGULATION The original reasons for which Congress authorized California to have a separate set of standards remain valid. California’s authority to set its own mobile-source emissions standards inevitably imposes additional risks and costs, such as design, production, and distribution costs, though the costs and benefits are difficult to quantify. However, experience to date indicates that the California program has been beneficial overall for air quality by improving mobile-source emissions control (Chapters 2, 3, 6 and 7). Recommendation California should continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards. The role will aid the state’s efforts to achieve air quality goals and will allow it to continue to be a proving ground for
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions new emissions-control technologies that benefit California and the rest of the nation. EPA AND CARB TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC PRACTICES IN SETTING STANDARDS CARB and EPA have essentially the same starting point and motivation for setting new or stricter standards: attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Each agency follows a series of procedural steps leading to a finalized regulation. These steps include identification of the need for new emissions standards, evaluation of potential control strategies, publication of proposed regulations, and solicitation of public comments on proposals before promulgating the regulations (Chapters 6 and 7). Some differences exist in the scope of CARB and EPA regulatory assessments as a result of the different procedures that the agencies must follow (Chapters 3, 6 and 7). Recommendations Consistent with a 2000 NRC report on modeling mobile-source emissions, CARB and EPA should work in tandem to improve mobile-source emissions models. In particular, consistent with this earlier NRC report, CARB and EPA should complete long-range plans that address improvements or new approaches to mobile-source emissions models. Such plans will improve estimations of emissions reductions. The estimations are a major part of assessing the impacts of emissions standards. The committee also recommends that CARB and EPA include, to the extent possible, air quality impact assessments as part of each rulemaking, because the effect of reducing mobile-source emissions on ambient pollutant concentrations will vary from region to region. Although the committee did not have sufficient information to evaluate the safety issues associated with past regulations, it recommends that safety issues continue to be given careful consideration by EPA and CARB when setting mobile-source emissions standards. Given that CARB and EPA emissions standards tend to require new technological developments, the committee also recommends that periodic assessments of technological feasibility be continued by the agencies for some of the more important standards. Examples of such stan-
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions dards include CARB’s biennial review of the zero-emission-vehicle mandate and EPA’s biennial review of on-road diesel-engine standards. Periodic assessments will allow the standards to be based on the most current understanding of the science and technology. THE WAIVER PROCESS The waiver review process usually takes several years to complete, and waivers are often granted shortly before the vehicles and engines that meet the standards are in the market. In some cases, waivers have been approved after vehicles and engines that meet the standards are already in the market. Although many California waiver requests are relatively straightforward and uncontroversial, EPA must nevertheless provide the opportunity for full public participation and subsequent technical analyses. This time-consuming process creates uncertainty for California, other states considering adopting those California standards, and manufacturers (Chapter 3). Recommendations California, other states, and manufacturers all have a strong interest in obtaining EPA waiver decisions well before the applicable standards take effect. The committee recommends establishment of a two-track system for waiver requests. Many California waiver requests have not been controversial, and EPA has not received any significant comments. EPA could expedite waiver requests that it considers noncontroversial, approving the waiver with a minimal analysis in a direct final decision without a full notice-and-comment process. The final decision would be published in the Federal Register, and if any interested party raised a substantive objection to the decision, it would be withdrawn and subjected to the full waiver process. This expedited process would allow EPA to process quickly and efficiently those waiver requests that are noncontroversial, freeing up resources to focus on those that require more time and discussion. The committee also recommends consideration of a mandatory time limit for EPA to review and issue a waiver decision for controversial waiver requests. The time limit could be based on existing timetables for the EPA waiver process. California is required to provide adequate lead
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions time between adoption of state regulations and their implementation: usually at least 2 years for on-road sources and at least 2 years for nonroad sources. A time limit of 2 years or less for EPA review would place the review process between the adoption of the standards by California and the time that the standards take effect. Given the importance of the EPA waiver review and the need to conclude such reviews more quickly, EPA should ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to the waiver review process so that the quality of the review is not sacrificed to comply with new time limits. ADOPTION OF CALIFORNIA EMISSION STANDARDS BY OTHER STATES Manufacturers of mobile sources have raised objections to the adoption of California standards by other states. Up to this point, adopting states and manufacturers have resorted to the courts to resolve their technical and legal disputes when direct negotiations have failed. Although EPA is an appropriate entity to comment on some of these disputes, it has no authority over states’ adoption decisions (Chapter 6). Recommendations The process by which a state adopts California emissions standards should be improved to aid in the resolution of the legal and technical disputes that often arise. As the agency that has the overall authority for implementing the CAA, including the mobile-source provisions, EPA should consistently participate in the process of the adoption of California standards by another state. EPA’s current role in the state adoption process includes the authority to approve or disapprove the state SIP claims for emissions benefits from California emissions standards. The committee discussed additional roles for EPA to improve the state adoption process and considered two possible alternatives. 1. Each time a state intends to adopt a California emission standard, EPA would provide formal guidance to aid the state’s adoption decision. EPA would determine whether any new issues have arisen that were not considered in the California waiver for the same standard (for example, issues related to technological feasibility, lead time, identicality, and cost) and whether these issues provide cause for states to reject the stan-
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions dard. EPA would further determine whether the state action is consistent with the requirements specified in section 177 of the CAA. EPA’s determinations would be developed with the aim of deterring litigation over potential disputes. However, EPA’s determinations would not be binding, and states would retain their ability to adopt California standards at their discretion. 2. EPA is given the authority to review and, under limited circumstances, deny a state adoption decision using a truncated waiver determination process. In its review, EPA would consider whether the state’s adoption of the California standard raises any issues not considered in the original California waiver and whether the state action is consistent with section 177 of the CAA. In this scenario, it is important that EPA’s waiver determination not delay or otherwise impede adoption of a California standard. EPA would be required to approve automatically any state’s adoption request that had not been denied after 18 months of submittal. It is also important that EPA give the same deference to section 177 state findings as it does to California’s findings when making a waiver determination. Under this alternative, EPA’s determinations would be binding in the same manner as EPA’s determination of a California waiver application. The committee also discussed whether EPA’s review under alternative 2 should include an assessment of the necessity or usefulness of the adoption for states to attain their air quality goals. Such an assessment would have to balance the benefits of additional emissions reductions, increased flexibility for states to develop air quality management plans, and wider distribution of new technologies against the costs to industry and consumers. What role EPA is to have in the state adoption process is a policy decision that goes beyond scientific and technical considerations. The committee disagreed as to which of the two approaches described above would be most effective. However, even if there is no change in the adoption process, non-California states should continue their efforts to work with manufacturers to minimize compliance burdens. As an example, the committee encourages northeastern states that have adopted California light-duty-vehicle emissions standards to implement a regionwide fleet-average emission standard rather than having each state meet a separate fleet-average standard.
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions SMALL-ENGINE EMISSIONS STANDARDS Compared with light-duty vehicle emissions control, small-engine emissions control poses special design, production, and distribution challenges (Chapters 5 and 7). CARB has demonstrated some flexibility in setting emissions standards for small engines to deal with some of the difficulties inherent in the non-integrated industry (Chapter 7). Recommendations California should continue its pioneering role when setting emissions standards for small engines to aid its efforts to improve air quality and be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies. The committee encourages CARB to use the flexibility it has shown in revising standards based on new scientific and technical information for regulating small engines. The committee also recommends that the suggested alternatives for improving the state adoption process be used if a decision is made in the future to allow states to adopt California small-engine standards. COST ANALYSES One element of relying on technology-forcing regulations and, in California’s case, of serving as a laboratory for mobile-source emissions-control technologies is the considerable uncertainty in estimating the cost of complying with emissions standards. In addition, the committee finds that it is difficult to determine what parties bear what fraction of the costs of emissions standards (Chapters 5, 6 and 7). Recommendations To address the uncertainty inherent in prospectively estimating costs to comply with mobile-source emissions standards, the committee recommends that agencies and stakeholders attempt to improve communication about the uncertainty by providing a range of costs rather than a single point estimate, especially for new technologies. In addition, be-
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State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions cause costs are such an important element for understanding the impacts of state emissions standards, the committee finds a need for a comprehensive study of the costs of state standards. This study should include the difference in costs for the states that adopt California standards compared with costs for California, the distribution of those costs, and their cost-effectiveness. Costs should be viewed broadly and include the costs to manufacturers and distributors to develop and distribute products certified under two emissions standards and the costs to states to implement, enforce, and maintain the program. HARMONIZATION OF STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES Recognizing the needs of some states to adopt more stringent mobile-source emissions standards to help meet air quality goals, a desirable objective is harmonization of CARB’s and EPA’s certification procedures. Although harmonization is a worthy pursuit when the interests of the federal government and the states coincide, there are areas where their priorities diverge (Chapters 5 and 6). Recommendations Regulators should make a determined effort to harmonize the procedures for testing and certification and look for opportunities to harmonize the emissions standards. Domestically, CARB and EPA should conduct a biennial assessment, either through a written report or public meeting, of where emissions testing and certification procedures can be harmonized and what emissions standards can be harmonized. The committee recognizes that EPA is leading the U.S. participation in international efforts to harmonize emissions standards and testing procedures. EPA should continue these efforts and encourage international participation in the biennial harmonization assessments. The committee recognizes that many countries will lag in the adoption of mobile-source emissions standards; therefore, global efforts to harmonize may need to focus initially on emissions testing and certification procedures.