A settlement reached in early November between the EPA and two car manufacturers may have as much impact on the economic health of the country as the recent wave election that ushered in a Republican Senate.

Essentially, the result of this legal case means that rules to prevent “global warming” will be implemented by the use of “lawfare” instead of science and technology.

On November 3rd it was reported that Hyundai and Kia will pay a record combined $100 million penalty for overstating fuel economy estimates for many of their vehicles.

The South Korean automakers had already agreed to pay consumers for the difference in estimated fuel costs, when the discrepancy was discovered by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012.

The civil fine and other penalties announced Monday are in addition to those direct payments to vehicle owners.

The vehicles involved were the Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Veloster and Santa Fe and the Kia Rio and Soul.

The automakers overstated fuel economy figures for their vehicles by an average of six miles per gallon, the EPA said.

And while the mainstream media was reporting this as a big win for the environment against an evil big business, a closer look at the origin of the problem points to vague regulatory language — a hallmark of bureaucrats who want to promote an agenda than actually address valid technical concerns.
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Hyundai, which owns both marques, defended itself, stating that it had genuinely misinterpreted the EPA’s complicated rules regarding testing.

…Hyundai has conceded to pay the penalties so that they can move on and avoid further litigation.

Although the EPA has not revealed whether other automakers are being investigated with the same vigour, the agency has been more stringent in its audits. Just two weeks ago, BMW was instructed to reduce mileage estimates on four Mini Cooper models. In June, Ford cut gas mileage and efficiency ratings on six of its models; no punishment was meted out and the American automaker only sent ‘goodwill’ cheques to about 200,000 owners and lessees of the vehicles. Why, then, were Hyundai and Kia the only ones singled out for public condemnation? Although there were many more cars involved in the Hyundai and Kia saga, it seems unfair that BMW and Ford got away with barely a slap on the wrist.

The reliability of EPA standards has long been questioned. Consumer Reports has shown that 55% of hybrid cars and 28% of cars with turbocharged engines fall short by 10% or more in independent testing. The EPA itself has acknowledged the shortcomings of its testing standard and proposed conducting future audits in actual on-the-road situations to verify figures. Considering that consumers rely on the EPA to look out for their interests and refer to their ratings to make car purchasing decisions, perhaps the EPA should reexamine its testing standards and guidelines, and consider auditing more than the “10 to 15%” of cars; you know, pay attention to the plank in its own eye and all that.

I suspect those in charge of implementing these rules at the EPA have no intention of reconsidering the test paramters. Interestingly, when the EPA’s case looked like it was poised for a big win, the California Air Resources Board CARB joined in as a co-plaintiff and will receive $6,343,400.

But there is more than money at stake here. As Katy Grimes of The Flash Report points out, the settlement is a roadmap for bureaucrats who want to punish businesses based on “the social cost of carbon”.

Ostensibly the CARB joined in to the Hyundai, Kia lawsuit settlement to mitigate future anticipated damage to the state’s air quality. But there is a deeper agenda; when a settlement such as this is reached, it essentially codifies into law what those settling outside of the legislative/regulatory process agree to — such as the “value” of carbon. –

“Greenhouse gas emission laws protect the public from the dangers of climate change, and today’s action reinforces EPA’s commitment to see those laws through,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Businesses that play by the rules shouldn’t have to compete with those breaking the law. This settlement upholds the integrity of the nation’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas programs and supports all Americans who want to save fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact.”

Given that the ARB is faced with outrage over the “social cost of carbon,” it appears they just will take the settlement approach and avoid any real air pollution mitigation… otherwise known as a government shakedown.

So, while the nation experiences a deep freeze, it looks as if the settlement may ultimately chill the already sluggish economic recovery while it warms the hearts hearts and lines the pockets who are using carbon dioxide to fuel their political agenda.