Ben Jervey

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Ben Jervey has been covering and working in the climate, energy, and environmental fields for a decade. He is regular contributor to DeSmogBlog. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He also contributes to National Geographic News, Grist, OnEarth Magazine, and many other online and print publications. His book–The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City–has been called the “bible of green living for NYC.” A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

Colorado Adopts California Clean Car Standards in Defiance of Trump Admin

Read time: 5 mins
Colorado truck license plate

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that his state would join 13 states and the District of Columbia in adopting California’s clean car emissions standards.

Colorado has a choice,” Gov. Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This executive order calls for the state to adopt air quality standards that will protect our quality of life in Colorado. Low emissions vehicles are increasingly popular with consumers and are better for our air. Every move we make to safeguard our environment is a move in the right direction.”

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.

CNN Wrongly Blames Electric Cars for Unethical Cobalt Mining

Read time: 6 mins
A foreman holds cobalt in his hand in Rwanda

This week, CNN published a startling multimedia report on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The investigation revealed troubling conditions in so-called “artisanal” cobalt mines, where hand mining operations are carried out with a combination of unsafe working conditions and child labor. As is all too often the case with resource extraction — whether for cobalt in Congo, oil in Ecuador, or coal in West Virginia — unsafe, unhealthy local labor practices deserve media exposure.

Unfortunately, CNN’s promotion of the investigation and headline misappropriate the blame, leaving casual readers to conclude that electric vehicles are responsible for these awful labor conditions.

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).

Rick Perry and Bob Murray Renew Conservative Call to Subsidize Coal

Read time: 7 mins
Bob Murray

Conservative rancor toward the free market in energy systems was on full display this week, as both Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and coal magnate Robert Murray made loud, unapologetic calls to subsidize coal-fired power plants.

We don’t have a free market in the [electricity] industry, and I’m not sure you want one,” Perry said Monday at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit.

Speaking on Tuesday, Murray, CEO of the country's largest underground mining company, said that Perry “has to approve” an emergency bailout for coal and nuclear plants in order to “ensure the resilience, reliability, and security of the grid.”

Koch vs. California: These Groups Are Pushing Pruitt to Undo the State’s Right to Regulate Auto Emissions

Read time: 10 mins
Los Angeles traffic backed up

A coalition of conservative groups, many with close ties to the Koch brothers, are calling for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to strip California of its right to set stricter greenhouse gas limits for personal vehicles.

Not satisfied with Pruitt’s decision to rewrite the Obama-era emissions standards — which had been written cooperatively with the automakers, state of California, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and EPA — the American Consumer Institute (ACI) organized a letter to Pruitt calling “for the revocation of California’s waiver from the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to decouple from federal policy and impose strict emission standards on automobiles.”

When asked about this threat on the sidelines of the BNEF Future of Energy Summit, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, told Desmog, “I don't think they're going to do that.”

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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