President Trump and the auto industry are teaming up to roll back gas mileage and emissions rules that would deliver a new car fleet in 2025 averaging 36 mpg in real-world driving. Fortunately, California — and a dozen other states — insist we need to keep the tough standard, which is the biggest single step ever taken against climate change.
The Trump administration’s counter-arguments make as much sense as buying a pickup truck to haul your latte home from Starbucks.
California’s leadership role grows out of its historic smog problems. Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, it is allowed to set air pollution rules tighter than the federal government’s. Relying on that authority in 2002, the state adopted a law to reduce cars’ carbon dioxide emissions. Twelve states, mostly in the Northeast, followed California’s lead.
Because automakers didn’t want to build cars under two sets of rules, they negotiated with the Obama administration in 2009 to set strong U.S. standards that California accepted.
On Monday, embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to trash it — and he has repeatedly threatened to revoke California’s authority to set tougher rules than Washington.
How do the carmakers feel? Some publicly claim they oppose this rollback — never mind that their lobbyists stood beside Pruitt on Monday. And privately, their chief executives pitched the cuts to Trump in the White House days after he took office.
As it seeks to enhance sales of its truck cash cows, the industry is following the same path that nearly killed it a decade ago.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
Statement by Dan Becker on the Attack on Clean Cars
Marching in lockstep, Trump, Pruitt and the automakers are moving smartly back to the 1950s as they Make America Polluted Again.
After killing the Clean Power Plan and pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, the president has declared war on clean cars, driver’s wallets, oil savings and a healthy environment. With his auto company partners, Trump is dismantling the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming and save oil.
The smart technology in clean cars saves far more money than it costs. By undermining the money-saving clean air rules, the auto companies are reaching into our wallets while increasing pollution from cars that will be on the road for years to come.
The 1970 Clean Air Act gave California and other states the right to protect their citizens’ health with tougher standards than the federal government adopts. Until today, they and the federal government have been united behind stringent clean-car rules. The states will meet any Trump rollback by protecting their citizens from excessive pollution. Ultimately, California will lead these clean-car states in preparing rules that would take effect in 2026. They will set the stage for strong federal standards that will reduce emissions long after Trump leaves office.
Automakers beware: the states bat last.
Under the strong current standards, automakers have enjoyed record sales and record profits–and have added 700,000 jobs.
Auto companies have the cost-effective technology–better engines and transmissions, high strength-low weight materials–to safely meet the 2025 standards. This is auto mechanics, not rocket science.
Even Ford, the king of the gas guzzler, is raising a yellow flag. After calling on Trump last year to dismantle the rules, its executive chairman and CEO said this week they did not want to roll them back—although they favor expanding loopholes.
If Trump and Pruitt weaken the rules, promoting gas-guzzling Trumpmobiles, we’ll pay more at the pump, depend more on oil from unfriendly countries and pollute our kids’ atmosphere. Automakers will jeopardize their record sales and profits achieved under the standards, and grow weaker by making too many gas guzzlers—the very course that led GM and Chrysler to bankruptcy and an $85-billion bailout not even a decade ago.
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Opinion articles by Safe Climate Campaign
Rather than shunning science and their constituents’ health as they do today, key Republicans once worked with Democrats to fight pollution. President Richard M. Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and other celebrated environmental laws that Congress passed unanimously. The gap between Congressional Democrats and Republicans on major environmental votes, now roughly 85 percentage points, was about 10 points in the early 1970s.
Then industry hijacked Republican thinking on the environment.
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From NOAA: History of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January, 2016.
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