California announced a deal with four automakers Wednesday that would increase vehicle fuel efficiency and defy the Trump administration’s plan to ease tailpipe emissions standards. In response, the president vented his frustration on Twitter.
....that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin. Only reason California is now talking to them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much better for consumers!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW signed on to the voluntary agreement with California, but the deal will have nationwide impact, as the four automakers account for 30 percent of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. annually. The pact lays out the goal of an average vehicle fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
Trump had sought to roll back higher fuel efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency during Barack Obama’s presidency, freezing them at 37 miles per gallon.
Greenhouse gases, such as the exhaust emitted from cars that run on gasoline, are a leading cause of climate change. According to the EPA’s own website, “the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”
Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax,” disputes that raising fuel efficiency standards will greatly affect the environment.
My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer. Engines would run smoother. Very little impact on the environment! Foolish executives!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
The increased mileage requirements, to an average of about 54 miles per gallon, would have saved about a half million barrels of oil a day and the equivalent (over the rest of the century) of four years’ worth of carbon emissions from the entire U.S. transportation sector.
The calculated impact on global climate change, however, would be a small fraction of a degree.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted the president’s attempts to head off a deal with the most populous state in the nation.
“This was a big blow to the Trump administration, what we were able to accomplish, and I don’t think they saw it coming,” Newsom told reporters Tuesday. “This idea that they’re helping the automobile manufacturers, that’s just been blown up, a complete myth. It was made up.”
Far more cars are sold in California than in any other U.S. state, giving it outsize leverage with the auto industry. The deal with the four automakers means that the companies will move to build a fleet of cars and trucks nationwide that adhere to the mileage goals.
Still, the Trump administration sought to paint the agreement as little more than symbolic.
“This voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said.
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