Go Buy That Pickup and Roll That Coal. The NHTSA and Trump Administration Say We Are Going to Cook Anyway.

Video screen capture. Pure Compilation

How did we go from the first stage of climate denial to the last in just a few short years?

Five years ago in the Guardian, Dana Nuccitelli enumerated the 5 stages of climate denial:

  1. Deny the problem exists (it's a hoax!)
  2. Deny we are the cause (sunspots!)
  3. Deny it's a problem (more food! Bananas in Canada!)
  4. Deny we can solve it (too expensive!)
  5. It's too late (let's party!)
Nuccitelli suggested that few climate contrarians have reached Level Five, but that was so five years ago. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is clearly up there in stage 4 and 5 territory, as it provides justification for the Administration's rolling back of scheduled increases in fuel efficiency. Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney of the Washington Post did the digging through the NHTSA's Draft Environmental Impact Statement,

The emissions reductions necessary to keep global emissions within this carbon budget could not be achieved solely with drastic reductions in emissions from the U.S. passenger car and light truck vehicle fleet but would also require drastic reductions in all U.S. sectors and from the rest of the developed and developing world.

Controbution of cars to climate

NHTSA/Public Domain

In other words, cars are just a part of the problem and having tighter standards just for American cars is not going to make much of a difference, so what's the point?

In addition, achieving GHG reductions from the passenger car and light truck vehicle fleet to the same degree that emissions reductions will be needed globally to avoid using all of the carbon budget would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to substantially move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically practicable.

In other words, it would cost too much, and everybody in the world has to do it, so why bother?

At least you're honest...

When the EPA produced documents, I wrote that The reasons used to justify rolling back fuel efficiency standards are hilarious and specious. But this is different; I have to say that this is probably the most honest and straightforward document that this current government has produced. Everybody else, from Trudeau in Canada to Merkel in Germany all talk about what they are going to do, but are still building pipelines and BMWs. And the NHTSA is correct in saying that the increased fuel efficiency standards weren't enough; really, we have to just ban gasoline and diesel cars, period. The NHTSA is just admitting the truth: these little steps aren't going to make a difference, and everybody wants their SUVs and pickups, so why even bother?

To answer my friend Es, Trump is still back at Stage 1, which may play well with his base but is not going to get through the courts when these changes are challenged. The NHTSA gives a much more sophisticated response, and one that we are going to hear a lot more of: We are screwed no matter what we do, so we might as well have a big tailgate party in our F-150.