EPA weighs carmaker requests for ‘off-cycle credits’

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017

Ford Motors Co. headquarters. Photo credit: Dave Parker/Wikipedia

Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. Ford and other automakers are pressing U.S. EPA on pollution credits. Dave Parker/Wikipedia

U.S. EPA is moving forward with automakers’ requests to count technologies like lights and glazing that reduce overall pollution toward compliance with emissions requirements.

But some environmental advocates have criticized the “off-cycle credits” because they ease the burden automakers have to improve engine efficiency.

The agency is seeking public comment on requests by BMW Group, Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Group, according to a notice in the Federal Register scheduled to be published Monday.

The regulator has approved other automaker requests in the past, most recently in January. The goal is to encourage technologies that reduce emissions, like aerodynamic glazes or refrigerants with low global warming potential.

The technologies currently being reviewed by EPA include “thermal control technologies such as solar reflective glass/glazing and solar reflective surface coating (paint), a high efficiency alternator, and an efficient air conditioning compressor,” according to the notice.

Environmental groups have not yet fully reviewed the latest request by automakers but have concerns about the impact of the requests.

“It is unfortunate that automakers keep trying to evade the standards by seeking dubious credits rather than putting the best technology on their vehicles,” said Dan Becker, the director of the Safe Climate Campaign.

He has said it is likely automakers will pursue more “flexibilities” given the administration’s willingness to ease regulatory burdens on the industry.

Automakers have asked regulators to grant approval for the technologies more freely as part of their campaign to smooth out the regulations, which they call burdensome and ramp up significantly in the coming years. The Trump administration is considering whether to lower the overall stringency of the standards for 2022 to 2025.

It is also considering a host of small tweaks to iron out the regulations, which are implemented by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bipartisan legislation on the Hill would make the parallel regulations more similar. Environmentalists say that would also reduce some of the benefits of the program.