Add the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) to the list of industry heavyweights lending support to EPA's legal defense in the California waiver dispute. AIAM issued the following statement today, and in the process revealed some glaring flaws in their reasoning:
"This is not a lawsuit to resist greenhouse gas emissions regulation. Rather, our intervention is focused on only one issue -- who should set those standards," said Michael J. Stanton, President and CEO of AIAM. "We believe that for important policy and legal reasons, it is the federal government that should set those standards."
Stanton added, "In fact, AIAM was one of the most vocal supporters of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires an overall interim fleet standard of at least 35 mpg by 2020 - an increase in fuel economy of 40% or more - and the 'maximum feasible' level fuel economy by 2030.”
Leaving behind the reality that legal text and precedent-- not any legal and policy rationales AIAM might have for wanting a different regulatory regime-- are at stake here, Stanton is also wrong when he says that the industry isn't resisting greenhouse gas emissions regulation. That's because CAFE standards, which he cites the industry's (grudging) support for, are, by definition, auto efficiency standards that aren't directly related to emissions regulation.
To be sure, increased efficiency does have the secondary result of producing cleaner-emitting cars, and regulators charged with implementing CAFE do have to consult with EPA and take environmental impacts into account (note: they were recently found to be doing a poor job of this). But its not an emissions standard, explicitly focused on the environmental and public health impacts of CO2 emissions, by any stretch of the imagination. And no spin-driven attempt to substitute CAFE for California's GHG emissions program can change that.
The funny thing is, the industry is already on record arguing in court (incorrectly and unsuccessfully) that the Pavley standards are essentially a fuel efficiency program. Now, they're claiming that its the other way around, and CAFE is essentially a means to address emissions concerns. Both are in support of the same overarching preference for a single national standard, focused on efficiency and set by the Department of Transportation, but the rhetorical acrobatics engaged to make that case are worth noting.