So will the White House manage to sync the EPA with the administration’s vision for natural gas? There’s still time — just. On July 16, the draft CAFE rules were sent to the Office of Management and Budget for a final review.
When it comes to new regulations and incentives, OMB is known to be cost-conscious, favoring efficient rules that expand rather than restrict consumer choices. Hence, given that the major auto manufacturers are, almost to a company, in favor of broad technology-neutral manufacturing incentives for alternative fuel vehicles, there is still a chance that the OMB will nudge the EPA in the right direction — a direction that encourages America’s auto makers to provide drivers with more gasoline-free options, including NGVs.
There’s plainly wide political support for that too. Govs. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat, and Mary Fallin, an Oklahoma Republican, forged a 13-state memorandum of understanding to spur production of NGVs for state fleets.
They told the EPA in May: “It is our hope that any final rule will promote a pool of alternative fuel vehicles and will incentivize U.S. manufacturers to produce NGVs as well as other qualified clean and alternative fuel vehicles” so that “the national benefits of [our] MOU are not undermined.”
These governors will be watching the final rule closely as, no doubt, will many folks in other natural gas-rich swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Gregory C. Staple is CEO of the American Clean Skies Foundation.