CARB is on deathbed, will this impact auto industry?

According to reports, President Trump is set to revoke California’s regulations for auto emissions. Does this spell the death knell for fuel economy standards and more importantly, domestic EVs such as BOLT?

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Can’t California do what they want and just ignore it? This is what will happen.


Pretty much my thoughts as well.

The more interesting legal question is, CAN California do what they want? States have the ability to set their own policy, but this de facto sets the national policy. Tail wagging the dog.

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It is not just CA…there are 13 states that have adopted the standards. It’s curious especially considering that some manufacturers already agreed to increase the mpg and advised against eliminating the standards. It really makes sense if you realize that China and EU are moving into that direction too and US manufacturers will have no choice but to make more efficient cars.

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Thank you, CARB regulations. Coupled with the ridiculous CA gas taxes, it costs me $0.92/gallon more to fill up in San Diego than it does in Columbus.

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I would consider that justification for eliminating the program. Why waste tax dollars researching and enforcing standards that will come to fruition anyway?


I support air quality standards cause I care about the air I breathe now. Your argument is basically the EU and China will force auto makers to be more efficient so why don’t we ignore air quality for the next 10-30 years until that happens.

Do you remember the air quality diaster in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s. CARB wasn’t some solution in search of a problem. LA had an air quality problem that required urgent governmental action and CARB made a huge difference.

@trism - that also answers your question about California gas prices. Columbus doesn’t require special gas since it has less people, different geographical features and didn’t have an air quality diaster in the 1970s?


Growing up in LA, I remember smog alerts, o-zone was constantly discussed on the news, etc.

You could absolutely see the yellowish haze hanging over LA on a daily basis.

I have no problem paying a bit more for gas knowing the air myself and my kids breathe is better.


Well, no, that would be contradictory. We aren’t ignoring it if we are following standards, no matter who sets them. And, in addition to the EU and China standards, I also support letting the market self correct. If people want more efficient vehicles, their money will do the talking. Just as manufacturers are giving up on sedans, they will give up on gas guzzlers if they aren’t selling. What I don’t agree with is using tax dollars to tell me what type of product I am permitted to purchase. There is no end to where that can lead. My TVs, pool, AC units, etc all use electricity and create pollution just to make me happy, so when will all of that be restricted or altogether outlawed?

I’d be fine with

I’d be fine with following Euro 6d, at the same time as EU does, on 1/1/2020. Great. Even stricter than CARB. Guessing you didn’t actually mean you want consistent standards without spending tax dollars.

As for the market regulating purchases to reduce pollution, that is insane. It’s not how externalities work. This is the classic case of a product having a cost not born by the purchaser. For example, let’s say I want to make a product at my house and the end result will include me dumping 1000s of pounds of Mercury into my back yard. Is that fine? Will the market lead people to not purchase my product cause i have poisened the water for millions of people

Edit - I don’t care how efficient someones vehicle is if it doesn’t produce pollution. If you want to have three wind turbines to charge a battery powered Hummer great, go nuts. It’s when that battery powered Hummer contributes to a 1970s style LA calibre smog diaster that government has a right to get involved.

The bulk of the price difference isn’t from different gas.

I’d be interested to know what makes up the price difference. Looks like taxes explain about 23 cents per gallon of the difference in Ohio vs California (assuming you were referring to Columbus Ohio)

My wild ass guess is that most of increase is due to cost of special gas in summer and the much more expensive real estate, on average, in California versus Columbus - for example gas by me is way more expensive than in Southwest Virginia despite taxes being basically the same.

Cost of doing business is definitely a factor, plus higher taxes. There are also indirect taxes via cap & trade plus the costs of CARB-imposed regulations.

There’s also a “mystery surcharge” which I have never seen explained, although there have been multiple credible recent attempts to figure it out.

I’m purposely avoiding posting any links that could be interpreted as politically-driven, I’m more interested in the economics of this.

Here’s a discussion on the “mystery surcharge” from an academic perspective.

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Thanks. Its interesting how in the past 10-15 years the environment has gotten so political. Never used to be that way. Guess who signed the legislation creating CARB - yep Ronald Reagan.

The mystery surcharge is interesting. I just ranted about externalities and the free market but I wonder if that surcharge is just “what the market will bear.” Cost of goods indexes in specific locations don’t seem to always follow 100% rationale explanations. Station owners figured out they could get away with higher prices.

Does this mean I can finally lease to CA residents!?


No one is against clean air to breathe. No one wants to return to LA covered in smog.

I do question what paying 33% more for every gallon of gas compared to much of the US, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever, is getting for Californians.

At some point we’re just nipping at the margins, and the money could be better spent on actual, urgent priorities – or just left in the pockets of normal people who need to pay the rent and the electric bill.

I don’t know where that point is, but I do know that there’s a difference between spending money and getting tangible, meaningful results.

You’re paying extra for reformulated gas. Due to the smaller volume of cars, other parts of the country do not get as much smog as LA or NYC, but it is still there, just not as visible. NYC had the same issue, until reformulated gas with 10% ethanol was introduced. Now you can see the NYC skyline, unlike the 90’s.


Tell your dealers to order 50 state emissions cars…problem solved!

Technically, if you can’t sell to CA for emissions requirements, you can’t actually sell to 13 states, PA being one. I have to make sure the car I’m buying is in compliance if I buy out of state, or I’m screwed when it comes time to register and inspect.

The article you posted addressed this point. The difference is the reformulated gas, the cost of doing business and the mystery surcharge. The reformulated gas gets you cleaner air. Cost of doing business is partially just price to pay for living somewhere people want to live (higher wages and real estate costs) and the mystery surcharge. The only thing you can point to and say you aren’t getting anything from is mystery surcharge but that isn’t a governmental issue. That surcharge seems to me like businesses just making little extra profit cause people will pay.