The Auto Industry, Not Trump, Owns This CAFE Rollback

Screen capture. Auto Alliance

The Auto Alliance lobbied for this, they own it and are going to have to wear it.

After the Great Recession, President Obama bailed out many American auto makers and struck a tough deal on fuel economy standards, which the automakers all agreed to after negotiations. As Mike noted in 2012, the average fuel economy standard was to hit 54.5 MPG by 2025. As the President said at the time:

54.5 MPG sticker

WH/Public Domain

“This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation's energy security, it's good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”

But the first thing the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers did after Donald Trump got elected was to try and renege on the agreement, and now a compliant EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has agreed, saying that the previous limits were "inappropriate." To nobody's surprise, the automakers think this is wonderful.

“This was the right decision, and we support the Administration for pursuing a data-driven effort and a single national program as it works to finalize future standards,” the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement. “We appreciate that the Administration is working to find a way to both increase fuel economy standards and keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans.”

Environmentalists are complaining about the government's actions here, quoted in Auto News:

“The Trump administration’s decision will take America backward by jeopardizing successful safeguards that are working to clean our air, save drivers money at the pump, and drive technological innovation that creates jobs,” Luke Tonachel, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project, said in a statement.

But really, I think the blame should be placed clearly at the feet of the automakers; they made a deal. Then they found that in an era of cheap gas, the public wanted pickups and SUVs, not efficient little coupes. Or as Eric Kulisch of Automotive News puts it,

In the coming days, Pruitt and Trump will likely catch some flak for trying to turn back the clock on environmental progress. But environmental groups and other critics, armed with social media megaphones, are already turning their fire on the carmakers. The companies will face being called hypocrites, willful polluters or worse. "By undermining the money-saving clean air rules, the auto companies are reaching into our wallets while increasing pollution from cars that will be on the road for years to come," Stan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, wrote in a blog on Friday.

The automakers have talked sustainability, and even deny that this is a rollback, calling it a "revisiting." The President of the Auto Alliance, Mitch Bainwol, blames us for fibbing and "herd reporting."

Washington is a town where truth can be elusive. Ideological agendas and herd reporting often distort issues. When it comes to auto policy, especially in today’s highly charged political environment, sensationalism routinely warps reality.

Well, I am sorry, Mr. Bainwol, but you are standing right beside him as he calls it a rollback. You claim that Obama's EPA ignored market realities but that the current EPA is listening. "We asked administration officials to look at the data and base their decision on marketplace realities. They have." But as I noted in an earlier post, the entire market reality is biased in favour of burning more fuel, not less.

The US government is doing everything they can to flood the country in gas and oil and the car makers are doing everything they can to keep making big gas guzzlers for as long as they can, and electric cars will be a fraction of the market for decades to come.

Some people recognize that it's the automakers who should be blamed for this and are calling for boycotts. However who do you boycott? Everybody is in this Auto Alliance of Evil:

  • BMW Group
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz USA
  • Mitsubishi Motors
  • Porsche
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen Group of America
  • Volvo Car USA

Really, about the only thing you can buy is a Tesla, an ELF or an e-bike.

The Auto Alliance made a deal, got a bailout, and then spent every minute going after Trump and Pruitt to kill the deal. They even sent the government a report that questioned whether fine particulates were harmful. According to Desmogblog/ Nation of Change:

The Alliance’s report also promotes outright climate science denial, with an entire section dedicated to questioning climate models. Other sections cherry-pick lines from studies to undermine the scientific consensus linking the burning of fossil fuels with more extreme droughts and floods, hurricanes, ocean acidification, and wildfires.

You can blame Trump and Pruitt all you like, but they are at least honest about never having seen a regulation that they didn't want to rip up. The automakers are trying to hide their complicity; it is the Auto Alliance and its members who are the liars and hypocrites, and they own this and are going to have to wear it.