If Donald Trump had his way, he would probably build an iron and concrete wall around the state of California and tell ICE to arrest anyone who tried to leave. The Golden State has been the bane of Trump’s existence since he took office, refusing to turn over detainees and released prisoners to immigration officials and slamming his many executive orders that open public lands and national parks to fossil fuel extraction.
One thing that sticks in the craw of the orange-tinted Potentate of the Potomac more than anything else is the waiver granted in July, 2009 to California by the EPA pursuant to section 209 (a) of the Clean Air Act. That waiver allows California to set its own vehicle emissions standards if they are at least as rigorous as the federal standards and promote the health and safety of California residents.
While in Los Angeles on September 18, the alleged president tweeted “The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER!”
And how exactly does that work? Well, poor people can’t afford new cars, which sell for an average of $37,500 in America today.
And why are they so expensive? Because of those silly emissions regulations, you see. Crash protection standards, power everything including tailgates and side doors, climate control systems, 17-speaker stereos, touchscreens, multiple computers, alloy wheels and gigantic tires, plus all the driver-assist technology that comes standard on new cars today and the trend to longer, taller, wider, heavier vehicles all have nothing whatsoever to do with the sticker price. Every dollar increase over the past 10 years is attributable to stricter emissions systems, according to the advocates for revoking the waiver.
Trump amplified on his initial tweet with this gem a little later in the day. “This will lead to more production because of this pricing and safety advantage, and also due to the fact that older, highly polluting cars, will be replaced by new, extremely environmentally friendly cars. There will be very little difference in emissions between the California Standard and the new U.S. Standard, but the cars will be far safer and much less expensive.”
According to CNN, he added, “Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”
A 4-year-old could punch holes in that argument, but that doesn’t matter to the Trumpies. Their theory is that if cars were cheaper, low income people would be able to buy new cars and since new cars are safer, more people would be driving safer cars. No one in Washington apparently has stopped to consider that those advances in safety cost money. Common sense is not part of this administration’s tool kit.
[Note: all this horse puckey about emission standards driving up the cost of new cars is straight out of the gospel according to Charles and David Koch. Their extensive network of fake institutes has been peddling this diarrhea for years. Andrew Wheeler, the current EPA administrator, drank deeply of the Koch Kool-Aid during his many years as a lobbyist for the coal industry. The truth of the matter is that lower fuel economy and emissions standards mean more gasoline and diesel will be consumed, which directly benefits Koch Industries.]
The EPA and DOT have been blustering about revoking California’s waiver for nearly a year, so California has had plenty of time to prepare its defenses. Over the summer, it reached an agreement with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW to increase emissions standards a little more slowly than the plan put in place by the previous administration. Trump responded with his patented torrent of rage, directing the so-called Justice Department to begin antitrust proceedings against the four companies. Apparently working together to address the climate crisis is illegal now. Good to know, huh?
But California has an ace up its sleeve. According to ABC 10 in Sacramento, state officials are considering amendments to the state’s rebate and incentive programs for EVs that would only make them available for models manufactured by companies that comply with its enhanced emissions standards. For instance, the Chevy Bolt would no longer qualify for state incentives. Neither would the electric models from Fiat, Hyundai, KIA, and others who don’t want to get on board the clean vehicle campaign.
Asked about the proposal, California Governor Gavin Newsome said, “Stay tuned. Give me a few days. And you’ll get a very specific answer to that question.” A bill introduced in the California legislature by San Francisco representative Phil Ting begins with this preamble: “California should not incentivize the purchase of vehicles manufactured by companies that are not helping to achieve the state’s public health and climate goals by refusing to join the state’s framework.”
Clearly, this fight is going to end up in the courts, and with the Supreme Court now firmly in control of Koch acolytes who have been trained since birth that the president’s powers are virtually unlimited, don’t expect Little Johnny Roberts, Sammy Alito, Clarence “The Clown” Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, or Bart Kavadrunk to lift a finger to rein in this egregious example of executive overreach.
It’s a Koch Brothers Court, pure and simple. If you aren’t aware of that, you haven’t been paying attention. Each one of the five is an Exorcet missile aimed straight at the heart of the Constitution. They will do what they are told, make no mistake about it.
A headline in Forbes today sums up the situation succinctly: “Trump Revoking California Emissions Waiver Will Cost Billions, Fracture U.S. Auto Market.” That seems a pretty accurate summary of where this latest stupidity from the Tramp administration will lead.