In July, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, and BMW entered into an agreement with the California Air Resources Board that would end the conflict over future vehicle emissions. The companies agreed to produce cars that met a slightly lower fuel economy standard than that promulgated by the Obama administration, and California agreed to give them a little more time to do so. Both sides gave up something to make the deal and both sides got some of what they wanted. In a normal world, most would term that a successful outcome.
But the Unites States under Trump is not part of the normal world. The deal sent the Bellowing Buffoon of Pennsylvania Avenue into a rage. How dare the companies make such an agreement in defiance of his own plan to roll back fuel economy standards and strip California of its authority under the Clean Air Act to set higher emissions standards than the federal government? And so Tsar Donald and his minions have decided to do what they do best — bully, bludgeon, and browbeat anyone who dares oppose them.
An Antitrust Threat Is Issued
According to the New York Times, the inappropriately named “Justice Department” has now opened an investigation into whether the agreement between the car companies and California violates antitrust laws. Last Friday, attorneys for the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Transportation Department sent a letter to Mary D. Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the state’s senior clean air official. “The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice” that its deal with automakers “appears to be inconsistent with federal law,” the letter read.
The letter incorrectly asserts that California is attempting to impose its will on the rest of the nation, a move which federal authorities claim will drive up the cost of new vehicles and make them unaffordable by many consumers.
What is really going on here is the Koch Industries virus that has infected the federal and state governments at all levels. The Kochroaches installed to head every federal agency oppose anything and everything that might reduce the amount of gasoline and diesel fuel sold to Americans. They opposed reducing methane emissions. They oppose phasing out incandescent light bulbs. They oppose protecting national parks from exploitation by oil and gas companies. If it puts a dollar in the till for Koch Industries, it’s good and must be preserved at all costs. If it benefits the people and the environment, it must be opposed with all possible vigor.
The bottom line is the putative president and his duly appointed minions see their mission as promoting business at all costs. This government has abandoned any notion of serving the people of America. Its only goal is to further enrich the rich and further empower the powerful.
Nicholas Bryner, a professor at Louisiana State University who specializes in environmental law, tells the New York Times, “That anticompetitive theory relies on the idea that it is improper to agree to do more than what is required by the federal government. Given that California has the legal authority to create emissions rules that are stricter than federal rules, this case doesn’t make any sense. From an environmental perspective, this move seems designed to intimidate California and the automakers that signed onto the deal.”
Other legal experts and people close to the Trump administration agreed that the investigation was meant as a show of force to companies that have displeased the president. “These are four car companies standing in the way of something the president wants to do,” says Richard Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University. “Now the enormous prosecutorial power of the federal government is brought to bear against them. This should make any large companies very nervous.”
He said the Justice Department investigation was surprising because the agreement between California and the auto companies has not yet been signed or legally formalized. “It is extremely unusual for a prosecutor to investigate a deal that hasn’t even been signed.”
The threats from the potentate on the Potomac have already had an impact. Mercedes-Benz was contemplating joining in the agreement with the other four manufacturers but changed its mind after it was warned not to do so by the German government. The Twitter Tyrant has long threatened to impose new tariffs on German cars. If Mercedes angered him, he could very well decide to do exactly that in retaliation.
The supposed president also met with Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, last week. We can be assured that Mary got the message and will not be standing with her fellow CEOs at Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, and BMW.
The feds claim self-righteously that what they are doing is in the best interest of consumers, but we have already exploded that myth. The New York Times reports that an analysis by the Rhodium Group shows the Trump plan will lead to an extra 321 million to 931 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere between now and 2035.
“The motivation for the antitrust suit is to prevent car companies from voluntarily fighting climate change by limiting pollution,” says Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. “So it’s hard to call the D.O.J. position ‘in the interest of consumers.’”
The New York Times Weighs In
On September 7, the editorial board of the New York Times weighed in, calling the antitrust threat “an act of bullying, plain and simple: a nakedly political abuse of authority. The department is supposed to prevent companies from acting in their own interest at the expense of the public. The four automakers, by contrast, are acting in the public interest.”
“That the government of the United States would fight to loosen emissions standards in the face of the growing threat posed by climate change also boggles the mind. Not content to fiddle while the planet burns, Mr. Trump is fanning the flames.
“Antitrust law grants the government broad authority to police anticompetitive practices, and the Justice Department has dressed up its actions with the fig leaf that the companies may have colluded by collectively agreeing to the tougher standards, which could result in higher prices for new cars and light trucks.
“The investigation is particularly striking because the department has shown little interest in preventing corporations from engaging in actual anticompetitive behavior. This summer, for example, the department blessed T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a deal likely to harm mobile phone consumers and workers, and to impede innovation.”
A Raving Lunatic At The Wheel
Donald Trump is a raving lunatic who governs as if he is embroiled in an ongoing road rage incident. His modus operandi when he does something stupid is to double down and try to bludgeon anyone who disputes him into changing their tune.
Just last week, Trump skipped the ceremonies marking the beginning of World War II allegedly so he could stay home and monitor the progress of Hurricane Dorian. But once the storm turned northward, he went golfing instead, taking time out to tweet about how the storm would definitely threaten Alabama.
Concerned the citizens of that state might start a needless evacuation — and buy up every loaf of bread and gallon of milk south of Chattanooga — the National Weather Service office in Birmingham issued a clarification 20 minutes later saying the storm was no threat to the state. Trump went ballistic. He assailed the NWS repeatedly and even appeared on television with a weather map that contained a black line over Alabama that someone added with a Sharpie in an effort to please the boss. (Trump is known to write with Sharpies.)
The black outlined area on this very outdated @NHC_Atlantic #Dorian graphic that Trump just used in his update was added and not a part of the official forecast. @WhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/XMQmepPyj6
— Kait Parker (@WeatherKait) September 4, 2019
There was no stopping Trump’s attacks. Day after day he hammered out his message that at one time, early weather charts projected the storm could go west over Florida and into Alabama, but those projections had been superseded by more current information days before Trump’s announcement.
On September 6, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the National Weather Service, issued an unsigned statement that said the information it provided from Aug. 28 through September 2 to Trump and the public “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”
According to NBC News, NOAA went on to say the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”
Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, the union that represents NWS forecasters, ripped the NOAA statement in a tweet Friday evening. “Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management tonight,” he tweeted.
America is being ruled by a tyrant who talks publicly about the size of his penis and flies into a rage whenever someone suggests the crowd at every event he attends isn’t the largest in history. The man is clearly insane, and yet the spineless jellyfish masquerading as Republicans in Congress never make a peep of protest. Moscow Mitch McConnell refuses to bring any legislation to a vote in the Senate unless the president has indicated in advance he will sign it — a clear abdication of the powers and duties of the Senate as set forth in the Constitution.
America is being ruled by a petulant child with the mental age of a two year old. His actions are reminiscent of another Donald known for towering rages. The only difference is that other Donald lives in a cartoon world. The real Donald is just a cartoon character who lives in an alternate reality divorced from logic or reason — hardly what America needs at a time when destruction of the environment is the single most important problem facing all its citizens and the world.