Why Automakers Should Actually Care About The Environment

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Dear Automakers,

You should support the environment. In fact, without it, we would not be able to buy your cars. I mean, we would be dead if we didn’t have clean air to breathe. Same problem if a climate disaster kills us, or ruins our livelihood.

As you probably know, California is in a fight against GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the Trump administration after those automakers decided to support an anti-environment initiative from the anti-environment president.

CleanTechnica has already created a petition to the automakers on this matter, but we feel the topic deserves continued attention and more pressure.

First, a quick breakdown of the story for anyone who missed earlier coverage as well as the latest news: The State of California has been able to require fuel economy standards higher than the US regulations for decades, since Nixon was president. Obama, California, and automakers came together several years ago to formulate fuel economy standards everyone could agree on. Trump’s EPA decided to roll back the fuel economy standards the Obama administration put in place (because, you know, it’s “making America great” to let automakers pollute us more). California said it was sticking to the higher standards. The Trump administration is suing California and trying to make that illegal (going against decades of precedent as well as the supposedly Republican ideal of states’ rights). Some automakers said they’d voluntarily stick to the regulations as well, while other automakers joined the Trump administration’s effort to pour more pollution over tens of millions of American citizens. And the latest news is that the State of California announced that it will stop the purchase of gas-powered sedans. In 2018, California purchased almost 2,700 vehicles for its own government fleet.

This is great news for Tesla, but I can understand why it saddens Elon. He and Tesla aren’t here just to make profits, but to make changes. These changes impact millions of lives. Tesla was started to help society, not to make Elon billions of dollars. As a leader, Elon and Tesla should be sad that other automakers don’t agree with California’s environmental initiatives and are turning their backs on previously agreed upon improvements.

What These Automakers Are Opposing

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota are just three of these automakers who agreed with the Trump administration when it comes to tailpipe pollution rules. The issue is that the Trump Administration thinks that California doesn’t have the right to set its own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards, even though it does and even though Republicans have been advocating for states’ rights … forever.

In September, President Trump announced that he would seek to revoke California’s authority to set standards that are stricter than those issued by federal regulators. Bottom line: Trump’s administration is seeking to undo all the good Obama’s administration has done. Trump’s administration doesn’t care about the environment. To be honest, the environment is just collateral damage in the eyes of this administration, and Trump apparently has no concern about collateral damage (whether that’s polluted citizens, kidnapped and traumatized babies and children, or the USA’s honor and reputation abroad). These automakers that support this agree that the collateral damage from greater pollution is fine — or they would not put money and profits over the lives of millions of people. Thankfully, some automakers (like Ford) have stuck with California and the American people on this topic.

To get a little practical on this matter, let’s compare the Toyota 4Runner’s miles per gallon to the efficiency of a Tesla Model X. The 4Runner gets 17 miles per gallon in the city, 20 miles per gallon on the highway, and combined that’s 18 MPG. Teslas don’t use gas, so it gets “miles per gallon equivalent,” or MPGe, ratings. The combined fuel economy rating for the Model X comes out to 89 MPGe. There’s a dramatic difference between 18 MPG and 89 MPGe, and if that Tesla is powered by solar, even better!

The Toyota 4Runner spews much more pollution, and right where people are sitting (even if they are in a car, the pollution gets in), walking, and biking. Toyota, GM, and FCA decided they want to keep doing that rather than electrifying like Tesla has done and Ford and Volkswagen seem intent on doing. My message to these automakers is simple: you need to care about people more. When you, a company, put pressure on a state government over an issue that affects the lives — not just livelihoods but actual lives — of everyday people, then you need to reevaluate your ethics.

According to America’s Health Rankings, California has the least healthy air out of all the states in the US. So you trying to tell them they can’t enforce stricter regulations looks like you want them to continue to have poor air quality. The data, by the way, comes from the Environmental Protection Agency — the same agency California and 22 other states are suing for the right to set its emissions standards. It’s a sad day when 23 states have to sue the EPA for the right to protect its own environment.

Dear Automakers: You Should Care About Your Customers.

Dear Automakers (or Automaker Executives),

Take a long, hard look at yourselves and ask yourselves this question: Do the lives of the people of California and 22 other states matter to you?

If the answer is no, then you really shouldn’t be in business or running any companies. After all, some of these people are your customers. And they are humans. You should care. You should care about the environment. You shouldn’t side with an administration that sees our lives and the environment as collateral damage in a hate war against a previous president.

How You, The Reader, Can Help

Sign this petition. Let’s make our voices heard.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider