auto alliance

The Trump Administration’s 'Dishonest' Attack on Fuel-economy Standards

Read time: 7 mins
Gas pump handle on the ground

By John R. Platt, The Revelator. Originally posted on The Revelator.

A former EPA engineer calls it “the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history.” Other experts say the resulting emissions increase would bode ill for the planet.

The Trump administration’s plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is “the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history,” says a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop the new standards under the Obama administration.

These standards weren’t going to be the ultimate solution for solving the climate problem, but they were a very, very important first step,” says Jeff Alson, who retired this past April after a 40-year career at the EPA. “That’s why this delay is so risky to us.”

Trump Administration to Halt Clean Car Standards, Revoke California's Right to Regulate

Read time: 7 mins

The Trump administration will announce plans this week to revoke California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles, according to inside sources quoted by Bloomberg.

This directly contradicts comments made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) air chief, William Wehrum, who said in January that the agency had “no interest whatsoever in withdrawing CA's authority to regulate.”

When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story

Read time: 6 mins
Scott Pruitt meeting with auto industry leaders

By Tom Lyon, University of Michigan and Magali (Maggie) Delmas, University of California, Los Angeles

Today most large companies like Exxon Mobil, Ford and GM issue slick reports extolling their efforts to conserve resources, use renewable energy or fund clean water supplies in developing countries. This emphasis on efforts to curb environmental harm while benefiting society is called corporate sustainability.

Once uncommon but now mainstream, this show of support for a greener and kinder business model might seem like a clear step forward. But many of these same companies are quietly using their political clout, often through industry trade associations, to block or reverse policies that would make the economy more sustainable. And because public policy raises the bar for entire industries, requiring that all businesses meet minimum standards, lobbying to block sound public policies can outweigh the positive impact from internal company initiatives.

These Auto Industry Companies Are Demanding Strong Clean Car Standards, Despite Trump

Read time: 4 mins
Average MPG on a dashboard

There’s a major sector of the automobile industry that is unwavering in its support of strong clean car standards: auto parts manufacturers.

Carmakers, through the powerful Auto Alliance trade group, have flip-flopped on fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light duty trucks — claiming they aren’t for rollbacks even after lobbying for them. On the other hand, auto parts suppliers have consistently argued on behalf of strong national standards, going against the direction currently pursued by the Trump administration.

On Rollbacks, Automakers Tell Trump 'Not So Fast,' Kochs Say 'Burn More Gas'

Read time: 5 mins
Trump and Pence meet with automaker industry leaders

It’s a classic case of be careful what you wish for. Automakers asked the Trump administration to weaken emissions and efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, and are now anxious about just how much the Trump administration actually plans to weaken the standards.

On Friday, May 12, heads of car companies visited the White House, to make the awkward request that Trump not actually give them what they asked for.

17 States Sue EPA Over Pruitt's Decision to Weaken Auto Standards

Read time: 5 mins
EPA union employees and supporters hold signs protesting Pruitt

It didn’t take long for the first legal challenges be filed against the Trump administration’s recent move to weaken automobile emissions standards. On April 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the Obama-era decision to retain the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks for model years 2022-2025. On Tuesday, 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the agency, challenging Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision.

The lawsuit is short and direct — only 122 words, including the names of the 17 states — petitioning the District of Columbia Circuit Court to review EPA’s decision under the Clean Air Act.

Pruitt’s decision was immediately applauded by the oil industry and car companies through the powerful Auto Alliance trade group. It was simultaneously bashed by environmental and consumers’ rights groups who criticized the agency for replacing a comprehensive review by the Obama EPA with a shallow analysis that borrowed the auto industry’s talking points.

Ford Touts 'Green' Image While Arguing for Weaker Efficiency Standards and Planning to Sell Only Trucks

Read time: 6 mins
Mustang tailpipe

Ford Motor Company would really like the public to believe that it supports strong emissions and efficiency standards for personal vehicles. Just ask Board Chair Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Hackett, who recently wrote: “We support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.”

However, a “rollback” is exactly what EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in his own language, has promised, and his planned rewrite of auto emissions standards has been guided almost exclusively by the input of Ford and other automakers through the powerful Alliance of Auto Manufacturers (the Auto Alliance).

Pruitt, Auto Industry, and Climate Deniers Retreat Behind Closed Doors to Weaken Fuel Efficiency Targets

Read time: 7 mins
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announcing rollback of Obama fuel efficiency standards

On Tuesday, April 3, surrounded by representatives of the auto industry and conservative climate deniers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt formally announced his decision to rewrite greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light duty trucks, undercutting one of the Obama administration’s most effective climate programs.

From the last-minute, controversial venue change to the hypocritical messaging of its attendees, the announcement reflected the new normal in Trump's Washington: the placement of industry influence and climate science denial front and center.

Auto Alliance Pushed Climate Denial to Get Trump Admin to Abandon Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

Read time: 9 mins
Car getting refueled at the gas pump

The Trump administration officially announced Monday that it will scrap fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States and set new weaker standards, effectively undermining one of the federal government’s most effective policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times anticipated late last week, the two agencies responsible for auto standards — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — both claimed that their internal reviews have found the Obama-era standards to be too strict, and that the agencies would go back to the drawing board to revise standards for model years 2022-2025. 

The weaker standards, expected to be revealed in coming months and reported to be well below the current targets of 54.5 miles per gallon (or roughly 35 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions), will be celebrated as a victory for the automakers, which have been lobbying the Trump administration since the day after the presidential election and which used a major trade group to peddle climate science denial in support of the rollback.

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