So I began a new feature on our website on Tuesday called Climate Change Tuesday. My goal was to bring attention to a topic I feel dearly about and to sound the alarm that we are reaching a dangerous point for our fragile planet. But of course I didn’t mean I was going to ignore the topic on other days, when the news warranted a response. Well, thanks to the president of the United States, today is one of those days.
As I poured myself a second cup a coffee and sat down at my computer, I went to Huffington Post and was met with this headline: Trump Proposes Gutting Fuel Economy Rules In ‘Giant Giveaway’ To Big Oil, Automakers.
Was I shocked or surprised? Of course not. Nothing this administration does surprises me. But I have to acknowledge, this action by Trump has to rank with many disastrous decisions he has made during his presidency.
Make no mistake, this decision will have lasting repercussions if allowed to be implemented. I say “if” because it’s sure to be fought in court by many stakeholders. Nevertheless, it’s another in a long line of actions this administration has taken that aims to undo much of the progress made under the Obama administration as it pertains to the environment.
To summarize, what this action does is severely weaken what Obama and the automakers agreed to in 2012: require passenger vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, nearly double today’s standard. That agreement, if implemented, would have reduced oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, halved tailpipe emissions and doubled fuel efficiency, saving consumers up to $5,700 in gasoline costs over a vehicle’s lifetime. But the administration, in its infinite wisdom, aims to freeze 2020 standards through the model year 2026. If this disastrous decision moves forward, it’s believed that by 2030, vehicles could be spewing an additional 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Thank you, Mr. President.
What we cannot ignore is another part of this action today. The proposal would revoke a waiver allowing California to set its own vehicle standards. California, of course, is a big state with a history of dealing with air pollution. The Clean Air Act allowed for California to do this because of the unique nature of the overly crowded state and the dirty air it has had to deal with over the years. I guess Mr. Trump doesn’t care much for California. I wonder why.
So let’s cut to the chase. Why is the administration really doing this? For one, the automakers have spent millions lobbying Congress and the administration to get the Obama agreement reversed. I guess their recent massive tax cut wasn’t enough. Their billions in profit aren’t enough and complying with the Obama standards cuts into those profits. Second, it’s pretty obvious what other massive industry will benefit immensely with this action: Big Oil. Yes, the Exxon Mobile’s and Chevron’s of the world just don’t have enough these days to survive. With this action, vehicles will guzzle more gas and thus feed the CEO’s and stockholders with more and more profit.
Finally, let’s not kid ourselves. The other and perhaps most despicable reason Trump is doing this? His hatred of former President Obama and the state of California. Whether it’s health care, the economy, world affairs or the environment, Trump has gone out of his way to reverse much of Obama’s policies out of spite. And California? He lost the state by millions of votes, and most of the state disapproves of his job performance. Yes, we have a president who is crass and vindictive.
So Mr. Trump is not only sticking it to the environment, but he’s also sticking it to President Obama and California. This is how far we have fallen. The only saving grace is that California likely will fight this in court, as will other states that have adopted California’s clean air standards.
With a Supreme Court fully in conservative hands, however, we really don’t know if fighting this ruling will be successful. At the rate we’re going, the courts are going to be overwhelmed with lawsuits aimed at stopping this radical administration from wrecking not just our democracy, but our precious environment as well.
Again, I cannot emphasize it enough: VOTE! It’s the last best chance we have.