Obama Climate Action Plan Vehicle Strategy Flawed

DETROIT, July 10, 2013 – One of the three pillars of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan is to cut carbon emissions in America by implementing strict fuel economy regulations for American vehicles.  Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), said “while this is a sound objective, the Administration’s strategy to meet this objective is seriously flawed.” SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Kavanagh says new vehicle regulations in the Climate Action Plan only consider the so-called “tailpipe emissions,” which are emissions that occur when the vehicle is being driven. According to SMDI, as vehicles get lighter and engine technologies advance, the emissions from driving become a much smaller part of total vehicle emissions.  Citing studies by the University of California-Davis and University of California-Santa Barbara, he noted emissions from materials and vehicle manufacturing can be half of a vehicle’s total emissions. He added that regulatory systems that “ignore this significant portion of a vehicle’s total emissions” may not achieve the desired environmental result, especially as vehicles become more fuel efficient.  SMDI supports vehicle regulations that consider emissions from all phases of a vehicle’s life: manufacturing, use and end-of-life disposal. 

“Many materials used for vehicle lightweighting and in alternative drivetrains produce such high emissions when they are made that they may not be overcome by savings during the driving phase,” said Kavanagh. “Considering only tailpipe emissions may result in a net increase in vehicle emissions, which is why the only way to ensure a reduction in emissions is to regulate total, or life cycle, vehicle emissions.”

“Regulators in the United States and European Union have fallen into the trap of waiting for each other to ‘go first’ in implementing life cycle based regulations,” said Kavanagh. “The concepts are well known, so let’s work out the details to get it right.”

For additional information about using a life cycle approach in vehicle regulations, visit: http://www.autosteel.org/en/Sustainability/Life%20Cycle%20Information/Automobiles/Life%20Cycle%20Approach.aspx.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice.  AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology.  AISI is comprised of 24 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry.  AISI’s member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.  For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s website at www.steel.org.

SMDI grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets. For more news or information, visit www.autosteel.org or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/smdisteel. SMDI automotive market investors include: AK Steel Corporation, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, ArcelorMittal USA LLC, Nucor Corporation, Severstal North America, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC, and United States Steel Corporation.

Deanna Lorincz
Tel: 248.945.4763

Jennifer Greenfelder
Tel: 248.945.4767