January 19, 2017 | Vol. 67, No. 2
Dear PEI Member:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy issued a Final Determination on January 12 that the vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards proposed in 2012 for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles are feasible, practical and appropriate and, as such, will not be modified.
The now-final standards require that the nation’s light-duty fleet achieve a CAFE of roughly 36.6 mpg for model year 2017, gradually increasing to 54.5 mpg for model year 2025.
Under the 2012 rule, the EPA was required to make a Midterm Evaluation of the proposed 2022-2025 standards by April 1, 2018. Acting well in advance of that deadline, the EPA launched the Midterm Evaluation on November 30, 2016, and simultaneously opened a 30-day comment period on its determination that the 2012 standards should stand as proposed (see Jan. 4, 2017 TL). The Final Determination came less than two weeks after the comment period closed.
In support of its decision to act now, the agency noted that “EPA’s regulations establish April 1, 2018, as the latest date for such a determination, but otherwise do not constrain the Administrator’s discretion to select an early determination date.”
More than 100,000 comments were submitted during the 30-day period. In a typical regulatory rulemaking process, each comment would be considered and addressed individually. In this case, however, the EPA addressed the comments en masse through a 174-page response that summarized, discussed and disposed of the basic arguments commenters had made. EPA justified this approach by noting that the Final Determination merely affirms an existing standard—and the agency’s procedures require a formal rulemaking only when EPA acts to revise a standard.
The incoming Trump administration and congressional allies have promised to use their power under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to quickly roll back certain regulations enacted in the last days of the Obama administration. If interpreted as a simple agency action, the Final Determination would not be subject to the CRA. Reversing or modifying its terms would require opening a new rulemaking, assembling scientific evidence and working through a lengthy public comment process.
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One little-reported part of the Final Determination could be seen as good news for many PEI distributors. A large number of commenters had encouraged the EPA to grant additional incentives for electric vehicles (EVs) because, they argued, the proposed CAFE standards will be reachable only if EVs gain a substantial presence in the nation’s fleet. The EPA, however, specifically rejected those arguments and declined to offer any additional EV incentives. The agency’s projections show that the 2022-2025 standards can be met largely through advances in gasoline vehicle technologies, including improvements in engines, transmissions, weight reduction, aerodynamics and accessories, with only minimal involvement of EVs.
At the same time, the EPA noted that its decision does not preclude the possibility of a future rulemaking to provide additional incentives for EVs and other very clean technologies such as hydrogen.
EPA NOMINEE AFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO RENEWABLE
As to the RFS, Pruitt’s testimony was largely supportive: “To honor the intent and the expression of the Renewable Fuel Standard statute is very, very important. It's not the job of the administrator or the EPA to do anything other than administer the program according to the intent of Congress. And I commit to you to do so."
Pruitt also agreed “without question” that in enacting the RFS, Congress’ intent was to drive greater production and use of ethanol and other renewable fuels.
However, Pruitt left the door open for future RFS adjustments by affirming the EPA’s authority to use waivers to set renewable fuel volume requirements below statutory targets when such authority is used “judiciously.” Pruitt mentioned lower-than-expected demand as one situation that might justify lowering the requirements.
The EPA released its final 2017 RFS volume requirements for advanced biofuel and other renewable fuels, including ethanol, on Nov. 23, 2016 (see Nov. 29, 2016 TL). Unlike the required volumes for 2014-2016, the 2017 requirements do meet the congressionally mandated targets. In those prior years, the EPA, citing an inadequate domestic supply, used its waiver authority to lower total renewable fuel volumes.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
In San Antonio, regulators decided to abandon a proposal by the state of Missouri to require 10-micron filters on retail diesel dispensers. This proposal was originally submitted in 2012 and had subsequently been modified to allow exceptions for cold weather areas and high-flow dispensers.
A proposal to reduce the allowable amount of water in retail fuel storage tanks was a major topic of discussion. The current rule allows up to 1 inch of water in diesel and gasoline storage tanks. Citing concerns about ethanol-blended gasoline and the accuracy of current water detection systems, the delegates in San Antonio determined that more study is needed on this issue. As a result, the proposal will not be up for vote in July.
Two items discussed in San Antonio will advance to a vote this summer. One is a proposal that would require all retail receipts to identify the dispenser used for each fuel transaction. This change would help weights and measures officials more easily check transactions and allow consumers to verify they have received the correct receipt.
Another voting item is a new testing procedure for CNG and LPG mass flow meters. The proposal would permit an accuracy test to be performed during a delivery with an inline device called a “transfer standard meter.” Backers say the procedure is safer than other methods and eliminates the need to dispose of the sample product after completion of a test.
NCWM’s 2017 annual meeting will be held July 16-20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
PEI SERVICE & CONSTRUCTION
MANAGERS CONFERENCE REGISTRATION OPENS
The conference, hosted by PEI at the Westin Indianapolis Hotel, will offer general sessions and roundtable discussions specifically geared to the needs of service and construction managers. The general sessions—Leadership Land Mines, Creating A Standout Experience and Making Good Decisions When The Heat Is On—will be presented by Marty Clarke, a renowned speaker, author and consultant. With an engaging, humorous, nontraditional style, Marty digs deeply into the behaviors that can cripple a manager's ability to emerge as a true leader.
Attendees also will be able to learn more about the scientifically based skills aptitude test for service technicians recently introduced by PEI. Developed in conjunction with California-based PSI, a highly respected online testing organization, the test evaluates candidates in light of the key knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) needed to succeed as a service technician in the fuel handling equipment industry.
Registration for PEI members through March 14 is $295 ($545 for nonmembers). After March 14, the registration fee increases to $395 for members ($695 for nonmembers). Registration includes all conference materials, three general sessions, four roundtable discussions, three meals and two receptions.
The 2017 PEI Service & Construction Managers Conference is sponsored by:
To learn more about the 2017 PEI Service & Construction Managers Conference, register and reserve your hotel room, click HERE.
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The TulsaLetter (ISSN 0193-9467) is published two or three times each month by the Petroleum Equipment Institute. Richard C. Long, Editor. Opinions expressed are the opinions of the Editor. Basic circulation confined to PEI members.