To hash out the politically charged issue of U.S. national clean car standards to 2025, executives from the big automakers are expected to meet with President Donald Trump today.
Senior staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reportedly will be at the table, together with executives from Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler.
EPA Director Scott Pruit announced in April he would seek a rollback of the Obama-era standards for the 2022-2025 time period.
The Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers contends that CO2 reductions by the auto sector already approach the Paris goals for 2025.
Under the Paris Climate Accord, the Obama Administration agreed that by 2025 the U.S. would cut greenhouse emissions by 26-28 percent compared to 2005 levels.
The automakers say they have nearly achieved that level already, pointing to fleet-wide automobile CO2 reductions that are already at least 21 percent lower than in 2005.
The 2017 EPA Trends Report shows the "real-world emissions" of new cars and light trucks went from an average of 447 grams/mile CO2 in 2005 to 352 g/mi in 2017.
But the Washington DC-based nonprofit Public Citizen accuses the automakers of crying "crocodile tears" to get a fuel economy standards rollback, pointing to the industry's multi-year campaign aimed at rolling back the clean car standards.
The automakers waited less than a week after his election to ask President-elect Trump to reopen and "adjust" the clean car standards.
On February 21, 2017, the Auto Alliance asked EPA Administrator Pruitt to revoke the final determination for clean car standards. And on March 13, 2017, the Auto Alliance filed a legal petition seeking to revoke the standards.
Two days later, the EPA announced it would reopen the midterm review, granting the automakers’ request.
In its determination to roll back the 2022-2025 fuel efficiency standards, the EPA did not do its own new analysis, but relied on information from the auto industry, citing the Auto Alliance more than 40 times and not mentioning the word climate.
On Friday morning, as the president meets with automakers, Public Citizen will drive a "Dirty Ford" around the White House and through Washington, DC. The 2006 Ford Focus has been outfitted with a black cloud of pollution that hovers over the roof of the car, with money spewing out of the gas tank.
"Automakers wasted no time rushing to Washington with their deregulatory wish list after Trump’s election," said Madeline Page, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen.
"Now they’re rushing to Washington, D.C., again, this time to try to distance themselves from the administration’s deeply unpopular clean cars rollback," said Page. "Consumers know better and won’t be taken for a ride. The automakers are on a collision course that they charted."
To further complicate the issue, on April 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration cannot delay a rule that calls on automakers to produce vehicle fleets that meet or exceed federal fuel efficiency standards.
The Auto Alliance says buyers today have many choices of energy-efficient vehicles. This year, there are more than 490 models that achieve 30+ highway miles per gallon, up 540 percent from 2007, and 79 models that get 40+ highway mpg.
Buyers who want silent, low-carbon or emission-free vehicles can take their choice of more than 40 hybrids, 30 electric vehicles and 19 plug-in hybrids.
By Sunny Lewis
Environment News Service (ENS)
May 10, 2018