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.
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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.
Safe Climate Campaign in the News
Rollback of auto mileage standards advances to White House, bringing conflict with California closer. The Washington Post. May 31, 2018.
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From NOAA: History of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January, 2016.
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