[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 61 (Wednesday, April 1, 2009)]
[Pages 14857-14862]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-7289]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0059]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
New Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

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

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for scoping comments.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 
NHTSA plans to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to 
analyze the potential environmental impacts of the agency's Corporate 
Average Fuel Economy program for passenger automobiles (referred to 
herein as ``passenger cars'') and nonpassenger automobiles (referred to 
herein as ``light trucks''). The EIS will consider the potential 
environmental impacts of new fuel economy standards for model year 
2012-2016 passenger cars and light trucks that NHTSA will be proposing 
pursuant to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
    This notice initiates the NEPA scoping process by inviting comments 
from Federal, State, and local agencies, Indian Tribes, and the public 
to help identify the environmental issues and reasonable alternatives 
to be examined in the EIS. This notice also provides guidance for 
participating in the scoping process and additional information about 
the alternatives NHTSA expects to consider in its NEPA analysis.

DATES: The scoping process will culminate in the preparation and 
issuance of a Draft EIS, which will be made available for public 
comment. To ensure that NHTSA has an opportunity to fully consider 
scoping comments and to facilitate NHTSA's prompt preparation of the 
Draft EIS, scoping comments should be received on or before May 1, 
2009. NHTSA will try to consider comments received after that date to 
the extent the rulemaking schedule allows.

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 
     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 202-366-9324.
    Note that all comments received, including any personal information 
provided, will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical issues, contact Carol 
Hammel-Smith, 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. 
Telephone: 202-366-5206. For legal issues, contact Jessica Wilson, 
Legislation & General Law Division, Office of the Chief Counsel, 
National Highway Traffic

[[Page 14858]]

Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 
20590. Telephone: 202-366-1834.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a forthcoming notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM), NHTSA intends to propose Corporate Average Fuel 
Economy (CAFE) standards for model year (MY) 2012-2016 passenger cars 
and light trucks pursuant to the amendments made by the Energy 
Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) to the Energy Policy and 
Conservation Act (EPCA).\1\ In connection with this action, NHTSA 
intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze 
the potential environmental impacts of the proposed CAFE standards and 
reasonable alternative standards pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) and implementing regulations issued by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) and NHTSA.\2\ NEPA instructs Federal 
agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of their 
proposed actions and possible alternatives in their decisionmaking. To 
inform decisionmakers and the public, the EIS will compare the 
potential environmental impacts of the agency's preferred alternative 
and reasonable alternatives, including a ``no action'' alternative. As 
required by NEPA, the EIS will consider direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts and discuss impacts in proportion to their 

    \1\ EISA is Public Law 110-140, 121 Stat. 1492 (December 19, 
2007). EPCA is codified at 49 U.S.C. 32901 et seq.
    \2\ NEPA is codified at 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347. CEQ's NEPA 
implementing regulations are codified at 40 CFR Pts. 1500-1508, and 
NHTSA's NEPA implementing regulations are codified at 49 CFR Part 


    EPCA, as amended by EISA, sets forth extensive requirements 
concerning the establishment of CAFE standards. It requires the 
Secretary of Transportation \3\ 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.'' \4\ NHTSA construes the statutory factors as 
including environmental and safety considerations.\5\ NHTSA considers 
the environmental NEPA analysis when setting CAFE standards.

    \3\ 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).
    \4\ 49 U.S.C. 32902(a), 32902(f).
    \5\ For environmental considerations, see Center for Auto Safety 
v. NHTSA, 793 F.2d 1322, 1325 n. 12 (D.C. Cir. 1986); Public Citizen 
v. NHTSA, 848 F.2d 256, 262-3 n. 27 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (noting that 
``NHTSA itself has interpreted the factors it must consider in 
setting CAFE standards as including environmental effects''); and 
Center for Biological Diversity v. NHTSA, 508 F.3d 508, 529 (9th 
Cir. 2007); for safety considerations, 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)).

    As amended by EISA in December 2007, EPCA further directs the 
Secretary, after consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the 
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 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.'' \6\ In doing so, the Secretary of 
Transportation is required to ``prescribe annual fuel economy increases 
that increase the applicable average fuel economy standard ratably 
beginning with model year 2011 and ending with model year 2020.'' \7\ 
Additionally, the standards for passenger cars and light trucks must be 
``based on 1 or more vehicle attributes related to fuel economy'' and 
expressed ``in the form of a mathematical function.'' In any single 
final rule, standards may be established for not more than five model 
years.\8\ EPCA also mandates a minimum standard for domestically 
manufactured passenger cars.\9\

    \6\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(1), 32902(b)(2)(A).
    \7\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(2)(C).
    \8\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(3)(A), 32902(b)(3)(B).
    \9\ 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(4) (``each manufacturer shall also meet 
the minimum standard for domestically manufactured passenger 
automobiles, which shall be the greater of (A) 27.5 miles per 
gallon; or (B) 92 percent of the average fuel economy projected by 
the Secretary for the combined domestic and non-domestic passenger 
automobile fleets manufactured for sale in the United States by all 
manufacturers in the model year. * * *'').

    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 published on May 2, 2008. See 73 FR 24352. In March 
2008, NHTSA issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS for the MY 
2011-2015 CAFE standards. See 73 FR 16615; 40 CFR 1501.7. On July 3, 
2008, EPA issued its Notice of Availability for the DEIS, triggering 
the 45-day public comment period. The public was invited to submit 
written comments on the DEIS until August 18, 2008. NHTSA also held a 
public hearing on the DEIS in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2008. 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, Docket No. NHTSA-2008-
0060-0605 (FEIS). On October 17, 2008, the EPA published a Notice of 
Availability of the FEIS in the Federal Register. See 73 FR 61859. On 
January 7, 2009, the Department of Transportation announced that the 
Bush Administration would not issue the final rule. See Statement from 
the U.S. Department of Transportation, available at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot0109.htm (last accessed Feb. 9, 2009).
    On January 26, 2009, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to 
the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of NHTSA, 
requesting NHTSA ``to publish in the Federal Register by March 30, 
2009, a final rule prescribing increased fuel economy for model year 
2011.'' See 74 FR 4907. President Obama also requested that ``before 
promulgating a final rule concerning model years after model year 2011, 
[the agency] consider the appropriate legal factors under EISA, the 
comments filed in response to the [NPRM], 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 * * *.'' Id.
    In accordance with President Obama's request, on March 30, 2009, 
NHTSA published a Final Rule promulgating the fuel economy standards 
for MY 2011 only. The Final Rule also constituted the Record of 
Decision (ROD) for NHTSA's MY 2011 CAFE standards, pursuant to NEPA and 
CEQ's implementing regulations. See 40 CFR 1505.2. The agency postponed 
a decision and the issuance of a final rule and ROD for MY 2012 and 
beyond, pursuant to the President's January 26th memorandum. The 
deferral of action on standards for the later model years provides the 
agency with an opportunity to review its approach to CAFE standard 
setting, including its methodologies, economic and technological inputs 
and decision-

[[Page 14859]]

making criteria, so as to ensure that it will produce standards that 
contribute, to the maximum extent feasible within the limits of EPCA/
EISA, to meeting the energy and environmental challenges and goals 
outlined by the President.
    NHTSA intends to propose CAFE standards for MY 2012-2016, a five-
year period, for various important reasons. As a preliminary matter, a 
standard for MY 2012 must be issued by the end of March 2010.\10\ 
Moreover, achieving an industry-wide combined fleet average of at least 
35 miles per gallon for MY 2020 depends, in substantial part, upon 
setting standards well in advance so as to provide automobile 
manufacturers with as much lead time as possible to make the necessary 
changes to their automobiles. Setting fuel economy standards for the 
full five-year increment permitted by EISA, would provide manufacturers 
with the maximum lead time possible under EPCA and EISA and promote 
regulatory stability and the efficient use of government resources.

    \10\ 49 U.S.C. 32902(a) requires standards to be prescribed at 
least 18 months before the beginning of each model year; for CAFE 
purposes, NHTSA and manufacturers have historically considered April 
1 of the prior calendar year to mark 18 months before the beginning 
of a model year.

    This Notice of Intent initiates the scoping process for the EIS 
under NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, and implementing regulations issued by 
CEQ, 40 CFR parts 1500-1508, and NHTSA, 49 CFR part 520. See 40 CFR 
1501.7, 1508.22; 49 CFR 520.21(g). Specifically, this Notice of Intent 
requests public input on the scope of NHTSA's NEPA analysis relating to 
the CAFE standards for MY 2012-2016 automobiles. As part of the NEPA 
scoping process, this notice briefly describes the alternatives NHTSA 
is currently considering for setting MY 2012-2016 CAFE standards.
    The Alternatives: NHTSA's upcoming NPRM will propose separate 
attribute-based standards for MY 2012-2016 passenger cars and for MY 
2012-2016 light trucks. This notice briefly describes a variety of 
possible alternatives that are currently under consideration by the 
agency, and seeks input from the public about these alternatives and 
about whether other alternatives should be considered as we proceed 
with the rulemaking and the EIS.
    As noted above, NHTSA is statutorily required to promulgate 
attribute-based fuel economy standards. See 49 U.S.C.A. 32902(b)(3)(A). 
Under the upcoming proposed standards, each individual vehicle model 
would have a specific fuel economy target based on the quantitative 
value of the attribute (for example, footprint) possessed by that 
vehicle model.\11\ Fuel economy targets would reflect, in part, NHTSA's 
analysis of the technological and economic capabilities of the industry 
within the rulemaking time frame. A manufacturer's CAFE standard, in 
turn, would be based on the target levels set for its particular mix of 
vehicles in that model year. 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 vehicle it produces.\12\

    \11\ Vehicle models made by different manufacturers would have 
the same fuel economy target if they both possessed the exact same 
quantity of the attribute upon which the standards are based.
    \12\ While manufacturers may use a variety of flexibility 
mechanisms to comply with CAFE, including credits earned for over-
compliance and production of flexible-fuel vehicles, NHTSA is 
statutorily prohibited from considering manufacturers' ability to 
use flexibility mechanisms in determining what level of CAFE 
standards would be maximum feasible. See 49 U.S.C. 32902(h).

    In developing alternatives, NHTSA must consider EPCA's requirements 
for setting CAFE standards. 49 U.S.C. 32902(b)(2)(A) and (C) contain 
the following three requirements specific to CAFE standards for MYs 
2011-2020: (1) The standards must be sufficiently high to result in a 
combined (passenger car and light truck) fleet fuel economy of at least 
35 mpg by MY 2020; (2) the standards must increase annually; and (3) 
the standards must increase ratably. EPCA also requires the agency to 
determine what level of CAFE stringency would be the ``maximum 
feasible'' for each model year. In determining the maximum feasible 
levels, EPCA directs NHTSA to consider four factors: Technological 
feasibility, economic practicability, the effect of other standards of 
the Government on fuel economy, and the need of the nation to conserve 
energy. See 49 U.S.C. 32902(f). In balancing these four factors, NHTSA 
also accounts for relevant environmental and safety considerations, as 
discussed above.
    The alternatives that NHTSA currently has under consideration, in 
order of increasing stringency, are:
    (1) A ``no action'' alternative, which assumes, strictly for 
purposes of NEPA analysis, that NHTSA would not issue a rule regarding 
CAFE standards.\13\ 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.\14\ NHTSA refers to this as the ``No Action Alternative'' or 
as a ``no increase'' or ``baseline'' alternative.

    \13\ See 40 CFR 1502.2(e), 1502.14(d).
    \14\ 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 decision makers 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).

    NHTSA is also proposing to consider five action alternatives, each 
of which would cause 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 during the rulemaking 
period. Because the percentage increases in stringency are ``average'' 
increases, they may either be constant throughout the period or may 
vary from year to year, so long as the average yearly increase over 
that period equals the percentage increase specified in the 
    The alternatives below represent the percentage increases in fuel 
economy that the agency is considering:
    (2) A 3% average annual increase, resulting in 31.7 mpg in MY 2016 
(and 35.6 mpg in MY 2020, if the increase were continued through that 
model year). NHTSA refers to this as the ``3% Alternative.''
    (3) A 4% average annual increase, resulting in 33.2 mpg in MY 2016 
(38.9 mpg in MY 2020). NHTSA refers to this as the ``4% Alternative.''
    (4) A 5% average annual increase, resulting in 34.8 mpg in MY 2016. 
(42.4 mpg in MY 2020). NHTSA refers to this as the ``5% Alternative.''
    (5) A 6% average annual increase, resulting in 36.5 mpg in MY 2016 
(46.1 mpg in MY 2020). NHTSA refers to this as the ``6% Alternative.''
    (6) A 7% average annual increase, resulting in 38.3 mpg in MY 2016 
(50.2 mpg in MY 2020). NHTSA refers to this as the ``7% Alternative.''
    Each of the alternatives proposed by NHTSA represents, in part, a 
different way in which NHTSA conceivably could weigh EPCA's statutory 
requirements and account for NEPA's

[[Page 14860]]

policies. For example, the 7% Alternative, the most stringent 
alternative, weighs energy conservation and climate change 
considerations more heavily and technological feasibility and economic 
practicability less heavily. In contrast, the 3% Alternative, the least 
stringent alternative, places more weight on technological feasibility 
and economic practicability. The ``feasibility'' of the alternatives 
also may reflect differences and uncertainties in the way in which key 
economic (e.g., the price of fuel and the social cost of carbon) and 
technological inputs could be assessed and estimated or valued. The 
agency may select one of the above-identified alternatives as its 
Preferred Alternative or it may select a level of stringency that falls 
between the levels of stringency reflected in the alternatives proposed 
in this Scoping Notice.
    Under NEPA, the purpose of and need for an agency's action inform 
the range of reasonable alternatives to be considered in its NEPA 
analysis.\15\ The above alternatives represent a broad range of 
approaches under consideration for setting proposed CAFE standards and 
whose environmental impacts we propose to evaluate under NEPA. These 
alternatives take into account the comments NHTSA received during the 
prior rulemaking and EIS process.

    \15\ 40 CFR 1502.13.

    As detailed below, NHTSA invites comments to ensure that the agency 
considers a full range of reasonable alternatives in setting CAFE 
standards and that the agency identifies the environmental impacts and 
focuses its analyses on all the potentially significant impacts related 
to each alternative. Comments may go beyond the approaches and 
information that NHTSA used in developing the above alternatives and in 
identifying the potentially significant environmental effects. The 
agency may modify the proposed alternatives and environmental effects 
that will be analyzed in depth based upon the comments received during 
the scoping process and upon further agency analysis.
    Scoping and Public Participation: The scoping process initiated by 
this notice seeks to determine ``the range of actions, alternatives, 
and impacts to be considered'' in the EIS and to identify the most 
important issues for analysis involving the potential environmental 
impacts of NHTSA's CAFE standards.\16\ NHTSA's NEPA analysis for the MY 
2012-2016 CAFE standards will consider the direct, indirect and 
cumulative environmental impacts of the proposed standards and those of 
reasonable alternatives.

    \16\ See 40 CFR 1500.5(d), 1501.7, 1508.25.

    While the main focus of NHTSA's prior EIS (i.e., EIS for Model 
Years 2011-2015) was the quantification of impacts to energy, air 
quality, and climate, and qualitative analysis of cumulative impacts 
resulting from climate change, it also addressed other potentially 
affected resources. NHTSA conducted a qualitative review of the related 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts, positive or negative, of the 
alternatives on other potentially affected resources (water resources, 
biological resources, land use, hazardous materials, safety, noise, 
historic and cultural resources, and environmental justice).
    For the current EIS, NHTSA intends to focus on the impacts in the 
same manner as it did in the prior EIS. NHTSA is currently considering 
analyzing environmental impacts related to fuel and energy use, 
emissions including GHGs and their effects on temperature and climate 
change, air quality, natural resources, and the human environment. 
NHTSA also will consider the cumulative impacts of the proposed 
standards for MY 2012-2016 automobiles together with estimated impacts 
of NHTSA's implementation of the CAFE program through MY 2011 and 
NHTSA's future CAFE rulemakings for MY 2017 and beyond. To that end, 
NHTSA will project the effects of CAFE standards for MY 2012-2016 and 
beyond on fuel use and emissions over the lifetimes of the vehicles 
produced during those model years (or ``the vehicles subject to those 
standards''), as well as on future fuel use and emissions by the entire 
U.S. automobile and light truck fleets.
    NHTSA anticipates considerable uncertainty in estimating and 
comparing the potential environmental impacts related to climate change 
in particular. For instance, it may be difficult to predict with a 
reasonable degree of certainty or accuracy the range of potential 
global temperature changes that may result from changes in fuel and 
energy consumption and GHG emissions due to new CAFE standards. It also 
may be difficult to predict and compare the ways in which potential 
temperature changes attributable to new CAFE standards may affect many 
aspects of the environment. NHTSA will do its best to gather all 
relevant and credible information. If, however, the agency discovers 
incomplete or unavailable information, the agency will acknowledge the 
uncertainties in its NEPA analysis, and will apply the provisions in 
the CEQ regulations addressing ``[i]ncomplete or unavailable 
information.'' \17\

    \17\ See 40 CFR 1502.22.

    Currently, NHTSA intends to rely upon the Intergovernmental Panel 
on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, and subsequent 
updates, and Reports of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) 
as sources for recent ``summar[ies] of existing credible scientific 
evidence which is relevant to evaluating the reasonably foreseeable 
significant adverse impacts on the human environment.'' \18\ NHTSA 
believes that the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and the CCSP Reports 
are the most recent, most comprehensive summaries available, but 
recognizes that subsequent research may provide additional relevant and 
credible evidence not accounted for in these Reports. NHTSA expects to 
rely on such subsequent information as well, to the extent that it 
provides relevant and credible evidence.

    \18\ 40 CFR 1502.22(b)(3); see 40 CFR 1502.21. The report and 
the IPCC's earlier reports are available at http://www.ipcc.ch/ 
(last visited March 11, 2008).

    NHTSA also expects to rely on the FEIS it published on October 10, 
2008,\19\ incorporating material by reference ``when the effect will be 
to cut down on bulk without impeding agency and public review of the 
action.'' \20\ Therefore, the NHTSA NEPA analysis and documentation 
will incorporate by reference relevant materials, including portions of 
the agency's prior FEIS, where applicable.

    \19\ See Final Environmental Impact Statement, Corporate Average 
Fuel Economy Standards, Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, Model Years 
2011-2015, Docket No. NHTSA-2008-0060-0605.
    \20\ 40 CFR 1502.21.

    In preparing this notice of public scoping to identify the range of 
actions, alternatives, and impacts to be analyzed in depth in the EIS, 
NHTSA has consulted with agencies, including CEQ, DOE, EPA, the Office 
of Management and Budget, and the Office of Energy and Climate Change 
Policy. Through this notice, NHTSA invites all Federal agencies, Indian 
Tribes, State and local agencies with jurisdiction by law or special 
expertise with respect to potential environmental impacts of proposed 
CAFE standards, and the public to participate in the scoping 

    \21\ Consistent with NEPA and implementing regulations, NHTSA is 
sending this notice directly to: (1) Federal agencies having 
jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to the 
environmental impacts involved or authorized to develop and enforce 
environmental standards; (2) the Governors of every State, to share 
with the appropriate agencies and offices within their 
administrations and with the local jurisdictions within their 
States; (3) organizations representing state and local governments 
and Indian Tribes; and (4) other stakeholders that NHTSA reasonably 
expects to be interested in the NEPA analysis for the MY 2012-2016 
CAFE standards. See 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C); 49 CFR 520.21(g); 40 CFR 
1501.7, 1506.6.


[[Page 14861]]

    Specifically, NHTSA invites all stakeholders to participate in the 
scoping process by submitting written comments concerning the 
appropriate scope of NHTSA's NEPA analysis for the proposed CAFE 
standards to the docket number identified in the heading of this 
notice, using any of the methods described in the ADDRESSES section of 
this notice. NHTSA does not plan to hold a public scoping meeting, 
because written comments will be effective in identifying and narrowing 
the issues for analysis.
    NHTSA is especially interested in comments concerning the 
evaluation of climate change impacts. Specifically, NHTSA requests:
     Peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been issued 
since the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (and are not reflected in the 
IPCC's work through November 17, 2007) and that address: (a) The 
impacts of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions on 
temperature, and specifically, the temperature changes that may be 
associated with any of the alternatives under consideration; (b) the 
impacts of changes in temperature on the environment, including water 
resources and biological resources, and human health and welfare; or 
(c) the time periods over which such impacts may occur.
     Comments on how NHTSA should estimate the potential 
changes in temperature that may result from the changes in 
CO2 emissions projected from setting MY 2012-2016 CAFE 
standards, and comments on how NHTSA should estimate the potential 
impacts of temperature changes on the environment.
     Comments on what time frame NHTSA should use to evaluate 
the environmental impacts that may result from setting MY 2012-2016 
CAFE standards, both incrementally and cumulatively. For example, some 
commenters during the last CAFE rulemaking suggested using a 50-year 
time frame to evaluate environmental impacts, while others suggested 
using a time frame that spanned more than 100 years. See FEIS sections 
     Reports analyzing the potential impacts of climate change 
within the United States or in particular geographic areas of the 
United States. Such reports could be prepared by or on behalf of 
States, local governments, Indian Tribes, regional organizations, 
academic researchers, or other interested parties.
     NHTSA understands that there are a variety of potential 
alternatives that could be considered that fit within the purpose and 
need for the proposed rulemaking, as set forth in EPCA, as amended by 
EISA. NHTSA, therefore, seeks comments on how best to structure a 
reasonable alternative for purposes of evaluating it under NEPA. 
Specifically, NHTSA seeks comments on what criteria should be used to 
structure such alternative, given the attribute-based system that EISA 
requires, while being consistent with NHTSA's statutory requirement of 
setting ``maximum feasible'' fuel economy standards that increase 
ratably. See 49 U.S.C. 32902(f). When suggesting a possible 
alternative, please explain how it would satisfy EPCA's factors (in 
particular, technological feasibility, economic practicability, the 
effect of other motor vehicle standards of the Government on fuel 
economy, and the need of the nation to conserve energy) and 
requirements (such as achieving a combined fleet average fuel economy 
of at least 35 miles per gallon for MY 2020) and give effect to NEPA's 

    \22\ Again, NHTSA notes that it is statutorily prohibited from 
considering flexibility mechanisms in determining what standards 
would be maximum feasible. 49 U.S.C. 32902(h).

    In addition, NHTSA requests comments on how the agency should 
assess cumulative impacts, including those from various emissions 
source categories and from a range of geographic locations. Also in 
regard to cumulative impacts, the agency requests comments on how to 
consider the incremental impacts from foreseeable future actions of 
other agencies or persons, especially those relating to greenhouse gas 
regulation or climate change initiatives and how they might interact 
with the CAFE program's incremental cumulative impacts.
    Two important purposes of scoping are identifying the significant 
issues that merit in-depth analysis in the EIS and identifying and 
eliminating from detailed analysis the issues that are not significant 
and therefore require only a brief discussion in the EIS.\23\ In light 
of these purposes, written comments should include an Internet citation 
(with a date last visited) to each study or report you cite in your 
comments if one is available. If a document you cite is not available 
to the public on-line, you should attach a copy to your comments. Your 
comments should indicate how each document you cite or attach to your 
comments is relevant to the NEPA analysis and indicate the specific 
pages and passages in the attachment that are most informative.

    \23\ 40 CFR 1500.4(g), 1501.7(a).

    The more specific your comments are, and the more support you can 
provide by directing the agency to peer-reviewed scientific studies and 
reports as requested above, the more useful your comments will be to 
the agency. For example, if you identify an additional area of impact 
or environmental concern you believe NHTSA should analyze, or an 
analytical tool or model that you believe NHTSA should use to evaluate 
these environmental impacts, you should clearly describe it and support 
your comments with a reference to a specific peer-reviewed scientific 
study, report, tool or model. Specific, well-supported comments will 
help the agency prepare an EIS that is focused and relevant, and will 
serve NEPA's overarching aims of making high quality information 
available to decisionmakers and the public by ``concentrat[ing] on the 
issues that are truly significant to the action in question, rather 
than amassing needless detail.'' \24\ By contrast, mere assertions that 
the agency should evaluate broad lists or categories of concerns, 
without support, will not assist the scoping process for the proposed 

    \24\ 40 CFR 1500.1(b).

    Please be sure to reference the docket number identified in the 
heading of this notice in your comments. NHTSA intends to correspond 
directly to interested parties by e-mail. Thus, please also provide an 
e-mail address (or a mailing address if you decline e-mail 
communications).\25\ These steps will help NHTSA to manage a large 
volume of material during the NEPA process. All comments and materials 
received, including the names and addresses of the commenters who 
submit them, will become part of the administrative record and will be 
posted on the Web at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    \25\ If you prefer to receive NHTSA's NEPA correspondence by 
U.S. mail, NHTSA intends to provide its NEPA publications via a CD 
readable on a personal computer.

    Based on comments received during scoping, NHTSA expects to prepare 
a draft EIS for public comment later this summer and a final EIS to 
support a final rule early next year.\26\ In regard to NHTSA's 
decisionmaking schedule, the agency expects to issue a final rule next 

    \26\ 40 CFR 1506.10.

    Separate Federal Register notices will announce the availability of 
the draft EIS, which will be available for public comment, and the 
final EIS, which will be available for public inspection.

[[Page 14862]]

NHTSA also plans to continue to post information about the NEPA process 
and this CAFE rulemaking on its Web site (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov).

    Issued: March 27, 2009
Stephen R. Kratzke,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
 [FR Doc. E9-7289 Filed 3-31-09; 8:45 am]