[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 185 (Friday, September 25, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 48894-48900]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-23199]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 523, 531, 533, 534, 536 and 537

[Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0059]


Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(DEIS) for New Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Notice of 
Public Hearing

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS); notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: NHTSA has prepared a DEIS to disclose and analyze the 
potential environmental impacts of proposed Corporate Average Fuel 
Economy (CAFE) standards for model year (MY) 2012-2016 passenger cars 
and light trucks, which NHTSA recently proposed pursuant to the Energy 
Independence and Security Act of 2007, and a reasonable range of 
alternative standards. To inform decisionmakers and the public, the 
DEIS compares the potential environmental impacts of the proposed 
standards and alternative standards reflecting a full range of 
stringencies, and it analyzes direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts 
in proportion to their significance. The DEIS provides a detailed 
analysis of potential impacts on energy resources, air quality, and 
climate. The DEIS uses climate modeling and NHTSA's own computer model 
(known as the ``Volpe model'') to provide quantitative estimates of 
potential impacts on air quality, carbon dioxide (CO2) 
emissions, global mean surface temperature, precipitation, and sea 
level rise. The DEIS provides a qualitative analysis of resources that 
may be impacted by changes in climate, such as freshwater resources, 
terrestrial ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, land use, human health, and 
environmental justice. It examines these impacts on the U.S. and on a 
global scale. In addition, the DEIS analyzes potential environmental 
impacts unrelated to climate change.

DATES: Public Hearing: The public hearing will be held on Friday, 
October 30, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the National Transportation 
Safety Board Conference Center, 429 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., Washington, DC 
20594. NHTSA recommends that all persons attending the hearing arrive 
at least 45 minutes early in order to facilitate entry into the

[[Page 48895]]

Conference Center. If you wish to attend or speak at the hearing, you 
must register in advance no later than Monday, October 19, 2009, by 
following the instructions in the Procedural Matters section of this 
notice. NHTSA will consider late registrants to the extent time and 
space allows, but NHTSA cannot ensure that late registrants will be 
able to speak at the hearing.
    Comments: To ensure that NHTSA has an opportunity to consider 
comments on the DEIS, NHTSA must receive written comments within 45 
days of the date the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
publishes a Notice of Availability of the DEIS in the Federal Register. 
NHTSA anticipates that EPA will publish that Notice on Friday, 
September 25, 2009, in which case NHTSA must receive written comments 
on the DEIS by Monday, November 9, 2009. NHTSA will try to consider 
comments received after that date to the extent the NEPA and rulemaking 
schedules allow, but NHTSA cannot ensure that it will be able to do so.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Peter Prout or Ms. Angel Jackson, 
Telephone: 1-202-366-0846, Fuel Economy Division, Office of 
International Vehicle, Fuel Economy and Consumer Standards, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 
Washington, DC 20590. E-mail: nhtsa.nepa@dot.gov. Information about the 
CAFE rulemaking and the NEPA process is also available at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments to the docket number identified in 
the heading of this document by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern 
time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you should mention the 
docket number of this document.
    You may call the Docket at 1-800-647-5527.
    Note that all comments received, including any personal 
information, will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NHTSA has prepared a DEIS to disclose and 
analyze the potential environmental impacts of proposed CAFE standards 
for MY 2012-2016 passenger cars and light trucks and a reasonable range 
of alternative standards.\1\ NHTSA invites Federal, State, and local 
agencies, Indian tribes, and the public to submit written comments and 
participate in a public hearing on the DEIS using the instructions set 
forth in this notice. As described in the Procedural Matters section of 
this notice, each speaker should anticipate speaking for approximately 
ten minutes, although we may need to adjust the time for each speaker 
if there is a large turnout. To facilitate review of the DEIS, NHTSA 
has posted the DEIS on its Web site, and it will be available in the 
Docket identified by the docket number at the beginning of this 
notice.\2\ Copies in hard copy or electronic (CD-ROM) form have been 
sent to all stakeholders on NHTSA's National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) mailing list for the proposed CAFE standards, and NHTSA will 
mail a CD-ROM containing the DEIS and its Appendices to any other 
interested party who requests one. NHTSA will consider the public 
comments received on the DEIS in preparing final NEPA documents to 
support final CAFE standards for MY 2012-2016 passenger cars and light 
trucks, which NHTSA plans to issue early next year. The agency's NEPA 
analysis is informing NHTSA's development of those standards.
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    \1\ See National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 
4321-4347, and implementing regulations issued by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ), 40 CFR 1500-1508, and NHTSA, 49 CFR 
part 520.
    \2\ The DEIS is available at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.
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    NHTSA is proposing standards pursuant to amendments made by the 
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) to the Energy 
Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA).\3\ To inform decisionmakers 
and the public, the DEIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts 
of the proposed standards and alternative standards reflecting a range 
of stringencies, and it analyzes direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts in proportion to their significance. The DEIS provides a 
detailed analysis of potential impacts on energy resources, air 
quality, and climate. The DEIS uses climate modeling and NHTSA's Volpe 
model to provide quantitative estimates of potential impacts on air 
quality, CO2 emissions, global mean surface temperature, 
precipitation, and sea level rise. The DEIS provides a qualitative 
analysis of resources that may be impacted by changes in climate, such 
as freshwater resources, terrestrial ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, 
land use, human health, and environmental justice. It examines impacts 
on the U.S. and on a global scale. In addition, the DEIS analyzes 
potential environmental impacts unrelated to climate change.
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    \3\ EISA is Public Law 110-140, 121 Stat. 1492 (Dec. 19, 2007). 
EPCA is codified at 49 U.S.C. 32901 et seq.
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    Background. EPCA sets forth extensive requirements concerning the 
rulemaking to establish MY 2012-2016 CAFE standards. It requires the 
Secretary of Transportation \4\ to establish average fuel economy 
standards at least 18 months before the beginning of each model year 
and to set them at ``the maximum feasible average fuel economy level 
that the Secretary decides the manufacturers can achieve in that model 
year.'' When setting ``maximum feasible'' fuel economy standards, the 
Secretary is required to ``consider technological feasibility, economic 
practicability, the effect of other motor vehicle standards of the 
Government on fuel economy, and the need of the United States to 
conserve energy.'' \5\ NHTSA construes the statutory factors as 
including environmental and safety considerations.\6\ NHTSA also 
considers environmental impacts under NEPA when setting CAFE standards.
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    \4\ NHTSA is delegated responsibility for implementing the EPCA 
fuel economy requirements assigned to the Secretary of 
Transportation. 49 CFR 1.50, 501.2(a)(8).
    \5\ 49 U.S.C. 32902(a), 32902(f).
    \6\ See, e.g., Competitive Enterprise Inst. v. NHTSA, 956 F.2d 
321, 322 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (citing Competitive Enterprise Inst. v. 
NHTSA, 901 F.2d 107, 120 n.11 (D.C. Cir. 1990)).
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    As recently amended, EPCA further directs the Secretary, after 
consultation with the Secretary of Energy (DOE) and the EPA 
Administrator, to establish separate average fuel economy standards for 
passenger cars and for light trucks manufactured in each model year 
beginning with model year 2011 ``to achieve a combined fuel economy 
average for model year 2020 of at least 35 miles per gallon for the 
total fleet of passenger and non-passenger automobiles manufactured for 
sale in the United States for that model year.'' \7\ In doing so, the 
Secretary of Transportation is required to increase average fuel 
economy standards for MY 2011-2020 vehicles through ``annual

[[Page 48896]]

fuel economy standard increases.'' \8\ The standards for passenger cars 
and light trucks must be ``based on 1 or more vehicle attributes 
related to fuel economy.'' In any single rulemaking, standards may be 
established for not more than five model years.\9\ EPCA also mandates a 
minimum standard for domestically manufactured passenger cars.\10\
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    \7\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(1), 32902(b)(2)(A).
    \8\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(2)(C).
    \9\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(3)(A), 32902(b)(3)(B).
    \10\ 49 U.S.C.A.32902(b)(4).
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    Pursuant to EISA, on April 22, 2008, NHTSA proposed CAFE standards 
for MY 2011-2015 passenger cars and light trucks in a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).\11\ On March 21, 2008, NHTSA issued a 
Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for the MY 2011-2015 CAFE 
standards.\12\ On October 10, 2008, NHTSA submitted to the EPA its 
Final Environmental Impact Statement, Corporate Average Fuel Economy 
Standards, Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, Model Years 2011-2015. EPA 
published a Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (FEIS) in the Federal Register on October 17, 2008.\13\ On 
January 7, 2009, the DOT announced that the Bush Administration would 
not issue the final rule.\14\
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    \11\ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Average Fuel Economy 
Standards, Passenger Cars and Light Trucks--Model Years 2011-2015, 
73 FR 24352 (May 2, 2008). At the same time, NHTSA requested updated 
product plan information from the automobile manufacturers. See 
Request for Product Plan Information, Passenger Car Average Fuel 
Economy Standards--Model Years 2008-2020 and Light Truck Average 
Fuel Economy Standards--Model Years 2008-2020, 73 FR 21490 (May 2, 
2008).
    \12\ 73 FR 16615 (Mar. 28, 2008).
    \13\ 73 FR 38204 (Jul. 3, 2008).
    \14\ The January 7, 2008 statement from the U.S. Department of 
Transportation can be found at: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot0109.htm (last accessed Jun. 9, 2009).
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    In the context of calls for the development of new national 
policies to prompt sustained domestic and international actions to 
address the closely intertwined issues of energy independence, energy 
security, and climate change, President Obama issued a memorandum on 
January 26, 2009 to the Secretary of Transportation and the NHTSA 
Administrator.\15\ The memorandum requested that NHTSA divide the MY 
2011-2015 rulemaking into two parts: (1) MY 2011 standards, and (2) 
standards for MY 2012 and beyond.
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    \15\ Memorandum for the Secretary of Transportation and the 
Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
74 FR 4907 (Jan. 26, 2009).
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    The request that the final rule establishing CAFE standards for MY 
2011 passenger cars and light trucks be prescribed by March 30, 2009 
was based on two factors. One was the requirement that the final rule 
regarding fuel economy standards for a given model year must be adopted 
at least 18 months before the beginning of that model year (49 U.S.C. 
32902(g)(2)). The other was that the beginning of MY 2011 is considered 
for the purposes of CAFE standard setting to be October 1, 2010.
    For MYs 2012 and beyond, the President requested that, before 
promulgating a final rule concerning the model years after model year 
2011, NHTSA

    [C]onsider the appropriate legal factors under the EISA, the 
comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the 
relevant technological and scientific considerations, and to the 
extent feasible, the forthcoming report by the National Academy of 
Sciences mandated under section 107 of EISA.

    In addition, the President requested that NHTSA consider whether 
any provisions regarding preemption are appropriate under applicable 
law and policy.
    On April 1, 2009, NHTSA published a NOI to prepare an EIS for the 
MY 2012-2016 CAFE standards. The NOI described the statutory 
requirements for the standards, provided initial information about the 
NEPA process, and initiated scoping \16\ by requesting public input on 
the scope of the environmental analysis to be conducted.\17\
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    \16\ Scoping, as defined under NEPA, is an early and open 
process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed in an 
EIS and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed 
action. See 40 CFR 1501.7.
    \17\ See Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement for New Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, 74 FR 
14857 (Apr. 1, 2009).
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    The Proposed Action and Possible Alternatives: Concurrent with this 
DEIS, NHTSA and EPA are each announcing joint proposed rules whose 
benefits would address the urgent and closely intertwined challenges of 
energy independence and security and global warming. These proposed 
rules call for a strong and coordinated federal greenhouse gas and fuel 
economy program for passenger cars, light-duty-trucks, and medium-duty 
passenger vehicles (hereafter light-duty vehicles), referred to as the 
National Program. The proposed rules can achieve substantial 
improvements in fuel economy and reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) 
emissions from the light-duty vehicle part of the transportation 
sector, based on technology that is already being commercially applied 
in most cases and that can be incorporated at a reasonable cost.
    The joint proposed standards are consistent with the President's 
announcement on May 19, 2009 of a National Fuel Efficiency Policy of 
establishing consistent, harmonized, and streamlined requirements that 
would improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all 
new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States.\18\ The 
National Program holds out the promise of delivering additional 
environmental and energy benefits, cost savings, and administrative 
efficiencies on a nationwide basis that might not be available under a 
less coordinated approach. The proposed National Program also offers 
the prospect of regulatory convergence by making it possible for the 
standards of two different federal agencies and the standards of 
California and other states to act in a unified fashion in providing 
these benefits. This would allow automakers to produce and sell a 
single fleet nationally. Thus, it may also help to mitigate the 
additional costs that manufacturers would otherwise face in having to 
comply with multiple sets of federal and state standards. This joint 
notice is also consistent with the Notice of Upcoming Joint Rulemaking 
signed by DOT and EPA on May 19 \19\ and responds to the President's 
January 26, 2009 memorandum on CAFE standards for model years 2011 and 
beyond.\20\
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    \18\ President Obama Announces National Fuel Efficiency Policy, 
The White House, May 19, 2009. Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-National-Fuel-Efficiency-Policy/ (last accessed August 18, 2009). 
Remarks by the President on National Fuel Efficiency Standards, The 
White House, May 19, 2009. Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-national-fuel-efficiency-standards/ (Last accessed August 18, 2009).
    \19\ 74 FR 24007 (May 22, 2009).
    \20\ Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential_Memorandum_Fuel_Economy/ (last accessed on August 
18, 2009)
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    Under the proposed standards, each vehicle manufacturer's required 
level of CAFE would be based on target levels of average fuel economy 
set for vehicles of different sizes and on the distribution of that 
manufacturer's vehicles among those sizes. Size would be defined by 
vehicle footprint.\21\ The level of the performance target for each 
footprint is intended to reflect the technological and economic 
capabilities of the industry.

[[Page 48897]]

The specific target for each footprint is the same for all 
manufacturers, regardless of differences in their overall fleet mix. 
Compliance would be determined by comparing a manufacturer's 
harmonically averaged fleet fuel economy levels in a model year with a 
required fuel economy level calculated using the manufacturer's actual 
production levels and the targets for each footprint of the vehicles 
that it produces.
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    \21\ A vehicle's ``footprint'' is generally defined as ``the 
product of track width [the lateral distance between the centerlines 
of the base tires at ground, including the camber angle] * * * times 
wheelbase [the longitudinal distance between front and rear wheel 
centerlines] * * * divided by 144 * * *.'' 49 CFR 523.2.
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    NEPA requires an agency to compare the potential environmental 
impacts of its proposed action and a reasonable range of alternatives. 
In developing the proposed standards and the alternatives, NHTSA 
considered the four EPCA factors underlying maximum feasibility 
(technological feasibility, economic practicability, the effect of 
other standards of the Government on fuel economy, and the need of the 
nation to conserve energy) as well as relevant environmental and safety 
considerations. NHTSA is also guided by President Obama's memorandum to 
DOT on January 26, 2009, as described in Background.
    Section 1501.6 of the CEQ regulations emphasize agency cooperation 
early in the NEPA process and allow a lead agency (in this case, NHTSA) 
to request the assistance of other agencies that either have 
jurisdiction by law or have special expertise regarding issues 
considered in an EIS. NHTSA invited EPA to be a cooperating agency, 
pursuant to the CEQ regulations, because of its special expertise in 
the areas of climate change and air quality.\22\ On May 12, 2009, the 
EPA accepted NHTSA's invitation and agreed to become a cooperating 
agency. NHTSA also consulted with DOE.
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    \22\ 40 CFR 1501.6.
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    The Preferred Alternative requires approximately a 4.3-percent 
average annual increase in mpg, resulting in an estimated required MY 
2016 fleetwide 38.0 mpg for passenger cars and 28.3 mpg for light 
trucks.\23\ The Preferred Alternative also results in a combined 
estimated required fleetwide 34.1 mpg in MY 2016. The agency's 
Preferred Alternative represents the required fuel economy level that 
we have tentatively determined to be the maximum feasible under EPCA, 
based on our balancing of statutory considerations. A full discussion 
regarding the agency's tentative conclusion that Alternative 4 
represents the ``maximum feasible'' average fuel economy level that the 
Secretary has decided the manufacturers can achieve, considering the 
statutory and other relevant factors, and is therefore the agency's 
Preferred Alternative, can be found in Section IV.F of the joint 
preamble of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
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    \23\ NHTSA notes that it cannot set out the precise level of 
CAFE that each manufacturer would be required to meet for each model 
year under the proposed standards, because the level for each 
manufacturer would depend on that manufacturer's final production 
figures and fleet mix for a particular model year. That information 
will not be available until the end of each model year.
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    This alternative, along with EPA's proposed standards, form the 
National Program and together are consistent with the National Fuel 
Efficiency Policy announced by President Obama on May 19, 2009. Under 
the National Program, the overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 
35.5 mpg in MY 2016, if all reductions were made through fuel economy 
improvements. In considering further action on the proposed standards 
and reasonable alternatives, NHTSA also will consider its NEPA 
analysis.
    In addition to the proposed standards, NHTSA has considered several 
regulatory alternatives for purposes of both Executive Order 12866 \24\ 
and its NEPA analysis, which includes a ``no action'' alternative as 
required by NEPA. The alternatives, in order of increasing stringency, 
are:
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    \24\ Exec. Order 12,866, ``Regulatory Planning and Review,'' 58 
FR 51735, Oct. 4, 1993, as amended.
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    (1) A ``no action'' alternative, which assumes, strictly for 
purposes of NEPA analysis, that no action would occur under CAFE (or 
under the National Program). Under that alternative, NHTSA would not 
issue a rule regarding CAFE standards for MY 2012-2016. The No Action 
Alternative assumes that average fuel economy levels in the absence of 
CAFE standards beyond MY 2011 would equal the higher of the agencies' 
collective market forecast or the manufacturers' required level of 
average fuel economy for MY 2011. The MY 2011 fuel economy level 
represents the standard NHTSA believes manufacturers would continue to 
abide by, assuming NHTSA does not issue a rule. NEPA requires agencies 
to consider a ``no action'' alternative in their NEPA analyses and to 
compare the effects of not taking action with the effects of the 
reasonable action alternatives to demonstrate the different 
environmental effects of the action alternatives. The recent amendments 
to EPCA direct NHTSA to set new CAFE standards and do not permit the 
agency to take no action on fuel economy.\25\ NHTSA refers to this as 
the ``No Action Alternative'' or as a ``no increase'' or ``baseline'' 
alternative.
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    \25\ CEQ has explained that ``[T]he regulations require the 
analysis of the no action alternative even if the agency is under a 
court order or legislative command to act. This analysis provides a 
benchmark, enabling decisionmakers to compare the magnitude of 
environmental effects of the action alternatives. It is also an 
example of a reasonable alternative outside the jurisdiction of the 
agency which must be analyzed. [See 40 CFR 1502.14(c).] * * * 
Inclusion of such an analysis in the EIS is necessary to inform 
Congress, the public, and the President as intended by NEPA. [See 40 
CFR 1500.1(a).]'' Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ's 
National Environmental Policy Act Regulations, 46 FR 18026 (1981) 
(emphasis added).
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    (2) A 3-percent average annual increase in mpg, resulting in a 
required MY 2016 fleetwide 35.6 mpg for passenger cars and 26.6 mpg for 
light trucks. The 3-Percent Alternative results in a combined required 
fleetwide 32.0 mpg in MY 2016.
    (3) A 4-percent average annual increase in mpg, resulting in a 
required MY 2016 fleetwide 37.4 mpg for passenger cars and 27.9 mpg for 
light trucks. The 4-Percent Alternative results in a combined required 
fleetwide 33.6 mpg in MY 2016.
    (4) An approximately 4.3-percent average annual increase in mpg, 
resulting in an estimated required MY 2016 fleetwide 38.0 mpg for 
passenger cars and 28.3 mpg for light trucks. The Preferred Alternative 
results in a combined estimated required fleetwide 34.1 mpg in MY 2016.
    (5) A 5-percent average annual increase in mpg, resulting in a 
required MY 2016 fleetwide 39.3 mpg for passenger cars and 29.3 mpg for 
light trucks. The 5-Percent Alternative results in a required achieved 
fleetwide 35.2 mpg in MY 2016.
    (6) The ``MNB Alternative,'' in which the Volpe model applies 
technologies to the vehicle market forecast until marginal benefits are 
estimated to equal marginal costs and net benefits are maximized. In 
this case, the model continues to include technologies until the 
marginal cost of adding the next technology exceeds the marginal 
benefit. This alternative requires approximately a 5.9-percent average 
annual increase in mpg, resulting in a required MY 2016 fleetwide 40.9 
mpg for passenger cars and 30.6 mpg for light trucks. The MNB 
Alternative results in a combined required fleetwide 36.8 mpg in MY 
2016.
    (7) A 6-percent average annual increase in mpg, resulting in a 
required MY 2016 fleetwide 41.1 mpg for passenger cars and 30.7 mpg for 
light trucks. The 6-Percent Alternative results in a combined required 
fleetwide 36.9 mpg in MY 2016.
    (8) A 7-percent average annual increase, resulting in a required MY 
2016 fleetwide 43.1 mpg for passenger cars and 32.2 mpg for light 
trucks. The

[[Page 48898]]

7-Percent Alternative results in a combined required fleetwide 38.7 mpg 
in MY 2016.
    (9) The ``TCTB Alternative,'' in which the Volpe model applies 
technologies to the vehicle market forecast until total cost equals 
total benefit. In this case, the model increases the standard to a 
point where essentially total costs of the technologies added together 
over the baseline equals total benefits added over the baseline. This 
alternative requires approximately a 6.7-percent average annual 
increase in mpg, resulting in a required MY 2016 fleetwide 42.7 mpg for 
passenger cars and 31.5 mpg for light trucks. The TCTB Alternative 
results in a combined required fleetwide 38.1 mpg in MY 2016.
    Of the eight action alternatives that NHTSA is proposing, 
Alternative 2 (3-Percent Alternative), Alternative 3 (4-Percent 
Alternative), Alternative 5 (5-Percent Alternative), Alternative 7 (6-
Percent Alternative), and Alternative 8 (7-Percent Alternative), 
require the average fuel economy for the industry-wide combined 
passenger car and light truck fleet to increase, on average, by a 
specified percentage for each model year from 2012-2016. Because the 
percentage increases in stringency are ``average'' increases, they may 
either be constant throughout the period or may vary from year to year.
    Three of the alternatives were added to the list of alternatives 
first proposed in the NOI to prepare an EIS for MY 2012-2016--the 
agency's Preferred Alternative (Alternative 4), an alternative that 
maximizes net benefits (MNB) (Alternative 6), and an alternative under 
which total costs equal total benefits (TCTB) (Alternative 9). The 
agency's Preferred Alternative represents the required fuel economy 
level that we have tentatively determined to be maximum feasible under 
EPCA, based on our balancing of statutory and other considerations. See 
Background. The other two alternatives, MNB and TCTB, represent fuel 
economy levels that are dependent on the agency's best estimate of 
relevant economic variables (e.g., gasoline prices, social cost of 
carbon, the discount rate, and rebound effect). The MNB Alternative and 
TCTB Alternative provide the decisionmaker and the public with useful 
information about where the standards would be set if costs and 
benefits were balanced in two different ways. All three alternatives 
(Preferred Alternative, MNB Alternative, and TCTB Alternative) are 
placed in context by identifying the approximate, on average annual 
percentage fuel economy increase, so that the public is able to see 
where they fall on the continuum of alternatives. See Section Three of 
NHTSA's Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis for a more detailed 
description of the MNB and TCTB Alternatives.
    NHTSA's decision process must balance the four EPCA factors and be 
informed by the environmental considerations of NEPA. In developing its 
reasonable range of alternatives, NHTSA identified alternative 
stringencies that represent the full spectrum of potential 
environmental impacts and safety considerations.\26\
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    \26\ Given EPCA's mandate that NHTSA consider specific factors 
in setting CAFE standards and NEPA's instruction that agencies give 
effect to NEPA's policies ``to the fullest extent possible,'' NHTSA 
recognizes that a large number of alternative CAFE levels are 
potentially conceivable and that the alternatives described above 
essentially represent several of many points on a continuum of 
alternatives. Along the continuum, each alternative represents a 
different way in which NHTSA conceivably could assign weight to each 
of the four EPCA factors and NEPA's policies. CEQ guidance instructs 
that ``[w]hen there are potentially a very large number of 
alternatives, only a reasonable number of examples, covering the 
full spectrum of alternatives, must be analyzed and compared in the 
EIS.'' CEQ, Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ's National 
Environmental Policy Act Regulations, 46 FR 18026, 18027, Mar. 23, 
1981 (emphasis original).
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    The NEPA Process and the DEIS. Under NEPA, a federal agency must 
analyze environmental impacts if the agency implements a proposed 
action, provides funding for an action, or issues a permit for that 
action. Specifically, NEPA directs that ``to the fullest extent 
possible,'' federal agencies proposing ``major federal actions 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment'' must 
prepare ``a detailed statement'' on the environmental impacts of the 
proposed action (including alternatives to the proposed action). To 
inform its development of the new MY 2012-2016 CAFE standards required 
under EPCA, as amended by EISA, NHTSA prepared this draft EIS to 
analyze and disclose the potential environmental impacts of a proposed 
preferred alternative and other proposed alternative standards. To 
inform its development of the new MY 2012-2016 CAFE standards required 
under EPCA, as amended by EISA, NHTSA prepared the DEIS to analyze and 
disclose the potential environmental impacts of a proposed preferred 
alternative and other proposed alternative standards pursuant to CEQ 
NEPA implementing regulations, DOT Order 5610.1C, and NHTSA 
regulations.\27\ The DEIS compares the potential environmental impacts 
among alternatives, including a no action alternative. It also analyzes 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts and discusses impacts in 
proportion to their significance.
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    \27\ NEPA is codified at 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347. CEQ NEPA 
implementing regulations are codified at 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508, and 
NHTSA's NEPA implementing regulations are codified at 49 CFR Part 
520.
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    In April 2009, NHTSA issued a NOI to prepare an EIS for the MY 
2012-2016 CAFE standards and opened the NEPA ``scoping'' process.\28\ 
The purpose of this notice was to request from the public its views and 
comments on the scope of the NEPA analysis, including the impacts and 
alternatives the DEIS should address, and to inform NHTSA of any 
available studies that would assist in the impact analysis for global 
climate-change issues. NHTSA mailed both Federal Register notices to 
hundreds of stakeholders and developed a mailing list of interested 
parties, including Federal agencies with environmental expertise, the 
Governors of every U.S. territory and State (or State NEPA contacts 
they identified), Indian tribes, organizations representing state and 
local governments and tribes, the automobile industry, environmental 
organizations, and other stakeholders interested in the CAFE program. 
NHTSA received seven responses to its scoping notice. Comments were 
provided by federal and state agencies, one automobile trade 
association, one environmental advocacy group, and three individuals. 
NHTSA reviewed and considered the public scoping comments and the 
studies commenters suggested. The predominant request by commenters 
during the scoping process was that NHTSA focus the DEIS on the 
standards' possible impacts on both air quality and global climate 
change.
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    \28\ See Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement for New Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, 74 FR 
14857 (Apr. 1, 2009).
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    NHTSA consulted with various federal agencies in the development of 
this DEIS, including the EPA, Bureau of Land Management, Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention, Minerals Management Service, National 
Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, 
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. NHTSA is also currently 
exploring its Section 7 obligations under the Endangered Species Act 
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
    NHTSA used the scoping process to help determine ``the range of 
actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered'' in the DEIS and 
to identify the most important issues for analysis.\29\ The DEIS 
consists of a Summary and

[[Page 48899]]

nine chapters: (1) Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action; (2) The 
Proposed Action and Alternatives; (3) Affected Environment and 
Consequences; (4) Cumulative Impacts; (5) Mitigation; (6) Preparers; 
(7) References; (8) Distribution List; and (9) Index. Five appendices 
include: sources identified in scoping comments (Appendix A); agency 
consultation letters (Appendix B); modeling data for air emissions and 
climate modeling (Appendix C); NHTSA's Preliminary Regulatory Impact 
Assessment (Appendix D); and EPA's Draft Regulatory Impact Assessment 
(Appendix E).
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    \29\ See 40 CFR 1500.5(d), 1501.7, 1508.25.
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    The DEIS devotes the most detailed analysis to direct, indirect and 
cumulative impacts of the proposed standards and the alternatives on 
energy, air quality, and climate. Key findings concerning estimated 
potential impacts on CO2 emissions, global mean surface 
temperature, rainfall, and sea level rise include the following:
     Global CO2 Emissions Reductions. Over the 2012 to 2100 
timeframe, the range of alternatives NHTSA analyzed would reduce global 
CO2 emissions (from all sources) by about 19 to 42 billion 
metric tons of CO2 (based on global emissions of 5.29 
trillion metric tons of CO2) from the emissions projected 
under the No Action Alternative. The alternatives would slow the 
expected increase in GHG emissions from the transportation sector over 
this period. Under all of the alternatives analyzed, growth in the 
number of passenger cars and light trucks in use throughout the United 
States, combined with assumed increases in their average use (annual 
vehicle miles traveled per vehicle), is projected to result in growth 
in total passenger car and light truck travel. This growth in travel 
overwhelms improvements in fuel economy such that, despite increases in 
fuel economy, total fuel consumption by U.S. passenger cars and light 
trucks is projected to increase under each of the action alternatives. 
Because CO2 emissions are a direct consequence of total fuel 
consumption, the same result is projected for total CO2 
emissions from passenger cars and light trucks.
     CO2 Concentration and Global Mean Surface Temperature: 
Estimates for CO2 atmospheric concentrations and global mean 
surface temperature vary considerably, depending on which global 
emissions scenario is used as a reference case. Temperature increases 
are sensitive to climate sensitivity. Yet, projected differences among 
the CAFE alternatives are small--i.e., CO2 concentrations as 
of 2100 range from 779.0 ppm under the most stringent alternative 
(TCTB) to 783.0 ppm under the No Action Alternative. For 2030 and 2050, 
the range is even smaller. Temperatures are within 0.007 [deg]C to 
0.015 [deg]C across alternatives--regardless of reference scenario and 
climate sensitivity.
     Precipitation: The CAFE alternatives reduce temperature 
increases slightly and thus reduce increases in precipitation slightly, 
compared to the No Action Alternative.
     Impact on Sea Level Rise: The impacts on sea level rise 
across the alternatives in 2100 range from 38.00 centimeters under the 
No Action Alternative to 37.86 centimeters under the TCTB Alternative, 
for a maximum reduction of 0.14 centimeters by 2100 from the No Action 
Alternative.
    These conclusions are not meant to be interpreted as expressing 
NHTSA's views that CO2 impacts on global mean surface 
temperature, precipitation, or sea-level rise are not areas of concern 
for policymakers. Under NEPA, the agency is obligated to discuss ``the 
environmental impact[s] of the proposed action.'' 42 U.S.C. Sec. 
4332(2)(C)(i) (emphasis added). The EIS analysis is intended to fulfill 
NHTSA's obligations in this regard. The DEIS provides a qualitative 
analysis of resources that may be impacted by changes in climate, such 
as freshwater resources, terrestrial ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, 
land use, human health, socioeconomics and environmental justice. It 
examines impacts on the U.S. and on a global scale. In addition, the 
DEIS qualitatively examines the alternatives' non-climate-change-
related direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on potentially affected 
resources. Such resources include water resources, biological 
resources, land use, hazardous materials, safety, noise, historic and 
cultural resources, and environmental justice.
    Throughout the DEIS, NHTSA's analysis relies extensively on 
findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC) and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP), 
including those presented in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report: 
Climate Change 2007 and the USCCSP's Scientific Assessments of the 
Effects of Global Change on the United States and Synthesis and 
Assessment Products.\30\ The DEIS also uses applicable CEQ regulations 
to acknowledge uncertainty and incomplete or unavailable information 
relevant to NHTSA's NEPA analysis.\31\
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    \30\ See generally http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/assessments-reports.htm (last visited June 25, 2008) and http://www.climatescience.gov (last visited June 25, 2008).
    \31\ 40 CFR 1502.22; see 40 CFR 1502.21.
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    Procedural Matters: The hearing will be open to the public with 
advanced registration for seating on a space-available basis. 
Individuals wishing to register to assure a seat in the public seating 
area should provide their name, affiliation, phone number, and e-mail 
address to Mr. Peter Prout or Ms. Angel Jackson using the contact 
information in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section at the 
beginning of this notice no later than Monday October 19, 2009. Should 
it be necessary to cancel the hearing due to an emergency or some other 
reason, NHTSA will take all available means to notify registered 
participants by e-mail or telephone.
    The hearing will be held at a site accessible to individuals with 
disabilities. Individuals who require accommodations such as sign 
language interpreters should contact Mr. Peter Prout or Ms. Angel 
Jackson using the contact information in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section above no later than Monday October 19, 2009. Any 
written materials NHTSA presents at the hearing will be available 
electronically on the day of the hearing to accommodate the needs of 
the visually impaired. A transcript of the hearing and information 
received by NHTSA at the hearing will be placed in the docket for this 
notice at a later date.

How long will I have to speak at the public hearing?

    Once NHTSA learns how many people have registered to speak at the 
public hearing, NHTSA will allocate an appropriate amount of time to 
each participant, allowing time for lunch and necessary breaks 
throughout the day. For planning purposes, each speaker should 
anticipate speaking for approximately ten minutes, although we may need 
to adjust the time for each speaker if there is a large turnout. To 
accommodate as many speakers as possible, NHTSA prefers that speakers 
not use technological aids (e.g., audio-visuals, computer slideshows). 
However, if you plan to do so, you must let Mr. Peter Prout or Ms. 
Angel Jackson know by Monday October 19, 2009, using the contact 
information in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above. You 
also must make arrangements to provide your presentation or any other 
aids to NHTSA in advance of the hearing in order to facilitate set-up. 
During the week of October 19th, NHTSA will post information on its Web 
site (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov) indicating the

[[Page 48900]]

amount of time allocated for each speaker and each speaker's 
approximate order on the agenda for the hearing.

How can I get a copy of the DEIS?

    The DEIS is available on NHTSA's Web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/, and it will be available in the Docket identified 
by the docket number at the beginning of this notice. To request a CD-
ROM containing the DEIS and its Appendices, please contact Mr. Peter 
Prout or Ms. Angel Jackson using the contact information in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

How do I prepare and submit written comments?

    It is not necessary to attend or to speak at the public hearing to 
be able to comment on the issues. NHTSA invites the submission of 
written comments on the DEIS, which the agency will consider in 
preparing the final NEPA documents to support the new CAFE standards 
for MY 2012-2016 passenger cars and light trucks. Your comments must be 
written and in English. To ensure that your comments are correctly 
filed in the Docket, please include the docket number at the beginning 
of this notice in your comments.
    Your primary comments may not exceed 15 pages.\32\ However, you may 
attach supporting documents to your primary comments. There is no limit 
to the length of the attachments.
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    \32\ 49 CFR 553.21.
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    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register at 65 FR 19477, 
April 11, 2000, or you may visit http://www.regulations.gov.
    If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of 
your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the 
envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket 
Management will return the postcard by mail.

How do I submit confidential business information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, send three copies of your complete submission, 
including the information you claim to be confidential business 
information, to the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. 
Include a cover letter supplying the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).
    In addition, send two copies from which you have deleted the 
claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 
20590, or submit them electronically, in the manner described at the 
beginning of this notice.

Will the agency consider late comments?

    NHTSA will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated 
above under DATES. To the extent the NEPA and rulemaking schedules 
allow, NHTSA will try to consider comments that Docket Management 
receives after that date, but we cannot ensure that we will be able to 
do so.\33\
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    \33\ See 49 CFR 553.23.
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    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some commenters may submit late comments. 
Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the docket for 
new material.

    Issued: September 22, 2009.
Ronald Medford,
Acting Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. E9-23199 Filed 9-22-09; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P