Industry questions climate models in regulatory fight

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018

A trade group for automakers sent federal regulators research that calls into question climate modeling and the effects of global warming as part of its efforts to loosen fuel efficiency rules.

The Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers sent a list with excerpts of peer-reviewed research to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to “frame and analyze the relevant issues.”

The safety agency is hammering out a proposal for fuel economy targets for model years 2022 to 2025. Automakers say current rules make building the cars that Americans want more expensive.

The alliance has lobbied for relief from steep Obama-era U.S. EPA mandates and asked for tweaks to EPA and NHTSA tailpipe regulations.

The comments cite studies that produced results far outside mainstream science, including from researchers who receive energy industry funding and who were recently appointed to EPA’s science advisory boards by Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The studies call for skepticism on research into ocean acidification, cast doubt on the health impacts of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, and criticize the subjectivity of climate models.

The document — prepared by consultancy Air Improvement Resource Inc. — comes in response to regulators requesting peer-reviewed scientific articles. Air Improvement Resource reviews emissions modeling for government and industry clients in manufacturing and oil and gas.

NHTSA’s mission is to limit energy use, not environmental harm, but it considers environmental issues including climate change during the process.

“We support consideration of the full range of potential environmental impacts of new standards, beyond just GHG emissions in concert with EPA,” the alliance wrote in an earlier comment to regulators. “We urge the agency to review the most recent scientific literature to update its evaluation of these impacts.”

The agency could come out with a proposal for fuel economy rules for model years 2022 to 2025 as early as April 1. That is the deadline for EPA to decide whether to change its own targets for those years.

But the White House is trying to negotiate a deal with California, which can set its own tailpipe rules, and may delay a fully formed proposal for months.