The Trump administration wants to put you in a newer, better, safer and cleaner car sooner and for less money. In contrast, the state of California and its allies in the radical environmental movement want either to keep you in your clunker longer or to put you in a smaller, more expensive, less convenient electric vehicle for the sake of their so-called “green” agenda.
Who has the better pitch? Fresno is hosting a public hearing on Monday, September 24 on a proposed rulemaking that will help decide the matter.
In August, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly proposed to rollback fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks issued by the Obama administration in 2012.
The Obama rules almost doubled fuel economy standards from 27 miles per gallon in 2012 to 55 MPG by 2025 – even though the technology to accomplish new 2025 standards didn‘t exist and still doesn’t. It’s not even on the drawing board.
As things stand now, the only way for carmakers to meet the Obama standards is to sell cars that most car buyers don’t really want – small cars and electric vehicles.
The Trump administration wants to pull the plug on the Obama plan and leave fuel economy standards where they are now, at about 35 MPG. The idea is to keep new car prices down so that more people can get into newer, safer cars that they want sooner and for less money – about $2,300 less on average, according to estimates from the EPA and NHTSA.
The average age of a car in the U.S. is 12 years. Aside from safety-compromising wear-and-tear on older cars, newer cars have improved technologies to keep drivers, their passengers and pedestrians safer. And, if you’re worried about the environment, newer cars emit fewer conventional air pollutants than older cars.
Why is any of this controversial? That’s a good question.
Federal fuel economy standards arose out of the oil embargoes and energy crisis of the 1970s. There were also concerns about so-called “Peak Oil” – the notion that we were running out of oil that was economically recoverable. But, all that has changed since the advent in the late-2000s of hydrofracturing technology that has left us awash in cheap oil and gas. We don’t even really need fuel economy standards anymore.
The state of California and radical green groups oppose the Trump proposal for the same reason the Obama administration issued it – global warming. More stringent fuel economy standards may reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, but not by much. EPA estimates that the difference in atmospheric CO2 levels by the year 2100 between the Obama and Trump is about 0.08 percent – that is, not even really measurable. The difference in average global temperature by 2100 works out to about 0.003 degrees Celsius. Again, that’s not even measurable.
A final reason California and its green allies oppose the proposed rule is that the Trump administration has proposed to revoke the Obama EPA-awarded right of California to set its own fuel economy standards.
Because carmakers don’t want to have to make two types of cars – one for California and another for other states – California has become the de facto fuel economy setter for the entire nation. This was an abuse of power by the Obama EPA that Congress never intended to occur.
The Trump proposal is called the Safe Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule. It’s all about consumer choice vs. pointless government dictates on the cars you and your family drive.