A coalition of utilities and electric vehicle makers, including Tesla, filed a petition with a US Federal Appeals Court to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider its recent work to roll back auto emissions standards.
In April, the EPA said that it would relax greenhouse gas emissions standards that had been put in place for model year 2022-2025 vehicles.
One of the first actions that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took when he assumed office in 2017 was to start the process of rolling back passenger vehicle greenhouse gas standards for automakers. The standards had been made official late in the Obama presidency, but the Trump administration claimed that the standards were too burdensome for automakers to adhere to. Automakers agreed, despite having been party to years of negotiations with the previous EPA to determine what was technically and economically possible from a fuel efficiency standpoint.
The National Coalition for Advanced Transportation (NCAT) represents 12 utilities as well as Tesla, electric truck maker Workhorse, and EV charging network EVgo. NCAT earlier this month asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC to review the EPA’s latest efforts to relax the Obama-era fuel economy standards.
The coalition challenge to the EPA follows a similar challenge made by 17 states, including California. The utilities’ efforts show that they’re interested in protecting one of the major projected avenues for growth in electricity demand. Electricity consumption has stagnated in the US as efficiency measures take effect and, in some states, solar panels make it easier for residents to buy less electricity from the local utility.
Facing that bleak business future, electric vehicles (EVs) present an exciting solution for utilities—shifting fuel demand from gasoline providers to local power lines. The EPA’s emissions standards rollback could possibly slow the transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
Transitioning to electric vehicles has been and will no doubt continue to be a slow process, no matter what results from this challenge to the EPA. A recent study showed that high concentrations of EVs in one neighborhood could require an infrastructure overhaul to keep power lines working.