California Will Tangle With EPA Over Weaker Emissions Rules, Broken Promises

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EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is prepared to roll back the emissions standards agreed to by the auto industry in 2010. Back then, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were sucking up to Uncle Sugar to get fat federal loans at a time when both were facing bankruptcy. But things have stabilized since then and General Motors is now leading the charge to renege on the promises it made. The #FakePresident and his despicable EPA head are only too glad to oblige.

EPA emissions regulations

Later this week, Pruitt is expected to announce a rollback of the emissions standards that will pertain to cars sold in the United States between 2021 and 2025, While the entire rest of the planet is pressing ahead with more aggressive emissions rules and considering banning internal combustion engines altogether, America is racing backwards into the past so the industry can continue building bigger, thirstier vehicles that generate maximum profits.

The environment and kids’ lungs be be damned — there’s money to be made. And since ethics and morality play no role in corporate governance in the mutant capitalist system that has come to dominate American business, the people will be left to gasp and wheeze through an ever denser cloud of exhaust emissions so that shareholder value can be preserved, so that billionaires can make a few million more.

California officials have seen what’s coming and are prepared to push back against Pruitt’s lunacy — hard. It has notified the other 11 states that adhere to its emissions standards in whole or in part that it intends to revoke its so-called “deemed to comply” provision if the EPA follows through on its threat to weaken emissions standards. That provision says any car that meets the EPA standard is deemed to comply with California standards as well.

With that provision off the table, automakers would be forced to build cars that meet two different specifications for US customers — one for California and the states that follow its lead and another for all the other states. Obviously, that is the last thing the automakers want. Building to two different standards will cost more. But they clearly are prepared to gamble that the feds, led by the disgraceful Pruitt, will cram the federal rules down California’s throat.

California and the other 11 states constitute one third of the US new car market. Automakers have been tiptoeing up the backstairs pleading for relief from the EPA, but they may be hoist on their own petard if California and the other states make good on their threat to stick to their commitment to their own residents. “What this shows is that California and the states are saying ‘We’re serious. We decided based on the midterm review that these standards are achievable and are what the states need to meet our goals, so you’re going to have to comply with them,’” Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The UCS has published a brilliant synopsis of the automakers’ playbook called The Disinformation Playbook: How Business Interests Deceive, Misinform, and Buy Influence at the Expense of Public Health and Safety. If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out. It describes in chapter and verse how the car companies lie and cheat so that they can slow walk regulations that will force them to build safer cars with lower pollution.

People who are incensed, by the way, that they have stabbed the Obama administration in the back would do well to boycott the members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The Alliance told Pruitt on his first day in office the rules “should be reviewed and withdrawn.” The Alliance spent $8.1 million lobbying federal officials last year. Its lobbyists include Hunter Bates and Chase Hieneman, who both previously worked for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, according to DC Report. Profits are the only thing these greed heads understand — diminishing their profits is the only way to punish them for their treachery.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says US drivers have saved nearly $57 billion since federal fuel economy and emissions standards first went into effect and that they benefit low-income drivers the most.

The utility grid in America has gotten a lot greener in the past few years, thanks to a surge in renewable energy. Not so long ago, generating electricity was responsible for more carbon emissions than any other sector of the economy. But now transportation produces the most carbon emissions. Scott Pruitt and the car companies are perfectly OK with that.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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