Automakers: How to Stay Compliant with the EPA and Clean Air Act

As a business owner or an entrepreneur, one of your biggest responsibilities and challenges is to make sure that your company complies with all regulations pertaining to your specific market and industry. A failure to do so may result in fines, loss of consumer’s trust, and serious financial losses. As a result, all the effort you put into creating your company and products may go down the drain as you find yourself out of business and starting from scratch.

As attorneys routinely dealing with businesses in need of legal advice, we know that keeping up with a considerable number of different regulations – both national and international – along with their frequent changes can be a true challenge. Anticipating the needs of our readers, we dedicated the last two articles to the issue of compliance with two important sets of regulations – the European GDPR and the Californian Prop 65. In the last article in this series, directed at automobile and auto parts makers, we will explore the issue of compliance with the EPA and Clean Air Act.

What is the EPA?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is a federal agency established in 1970 with a goal of protecting the environment and human health. The EPA has the authority to create standards and regulations promoting and conserving the health of both the natural environment and individuals. For example, the EPA regulates the production and use of various chemicals and pollutants and determines the safe levels of these in food and water. American businesses are obliged to comply with laws and regulations put forward by the EPA under the penalty of fines, sanctions, and other enforcement measures. Additionally, since January 2nd, 2011, under the Clean Air Act, the EPA also started regulating and controlling greenhouse gases emissions from mobile and stationary sources such as cars or power plants.

Main Tenets of the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act was first adopted in 1970 and revisions were subsequently made in 1977 and 1990. Its main goal was to set air quality standards and define acceptable levels of air pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead. Originally, greenhouse gases (GHGs) were not classified as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and consequently, the EPA didn’t feel it had authority to establish laws related to, among others, CO2 levels and emissions. However, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling established that GHGs are indeed air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. In 2009, the EPA published a finding that GHGs endanger public welfare and contribute to climate change. Consequently, the agency proceeded to design and enforce regulations related to GHGs emissions. 

How Can Car and Car Parts Manufacturers Comply?

The main requirement the EPA and Clean Air Act places on manufacturers in the automobile industry is that new engines or equipment sold or distributed in the U.S. must be certified to meet the emission levels established by the EPA. Companies must measure, report, and keep records of the emissions produced by its products with regards to the following greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Compliance with GHG requirements is based on measurement of carbon-related exhaust emissions, or CREE. As noted in an official EPA Frequently Asked Questions document, the exhaust emission compliance requirements for CH4 and N2O are 0.030 g/mi and 0.010 g/mi, respectively. Additionally, manufacturers are required to meet fleet average CO2 standards. It is important to note, however, that companies with a small business status (those employing less than 1000 employees worldwide) are exempt from GHG requirements.

Not Sure If You’re in Compliance? Consult BRADFORD, LTD

If you are not sure whether you are properly in compliance with the EPA emission level requirements, or if you would like to know if you can qualify for an exemption, do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys at BRADFORD, LTD attorneys. We are a tight-knit law firm and our team is dedicated to delivering outstanding results for our clients. We will carefully analyze all the details of your situation and design a satisfying solution, uniquely tailored to your personal needs and circumstances of your business.

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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