By Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang
July 25, 2019
President Donald Trump is poised to eviscerate the clean-car rules that automakers negotiated with President Barack Obama. When they debate in Detroit, the Democratic presidential candidates must explain how they would repair the damage he is doing to the climate and undo the risk he is creating for the domestic auto industry.
Anything short of restoring the Obama plan and moving to more stringent mileage and emissions standards will leave the planet — and the Detroit 3 — in an increasingly precarious position.
There’s no better place to talk about auto pollution and the future of the industry than Detroit. The new fuel efficiency standard has long been seen as a job creator — as many as 20,000 by 2030 in Michigan alone, according to the Blue-Green Alliance. And automobiles are responsible for about 20% of the nation’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant. Indeed, holding a debate in Detroit and not discussing auto pollution would be like debating in the Vatican and not talking about religion.
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Opinion articles by Safe Climate Campaign
As President Donald Trump races to gut the Obama administration’s auto mileage and emissions program, the California Air Resources Board, an agency little known outside the state, could help protect us from the rollback.
The Obama plan, developed jointly with automakers and California officials, sought to make automobiles more fuel efficient and would deliver a fleet of new cars and trucks in 2025 averaging 36 mpg on the road. By almost doubling gas mileage and halving emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, the Obama standard is the biggest single step taken against climate change in history. And by prodding bailed-out automakers to build increasingly clean vehicles, it better positions the companies to compete with more-efficient imports.