Automakers Are More Responsible Than Trump

Trump’s war on science and the environment was recently dealt a setback in the form of an agreement between a group of American, Japanese and European automakers and the State of California.

As The Washington Post reported,

Four automakers from three continents have struck a dealwith California to produce fleets that are more fuel-efficient in coming years, undercutting one of the Trump administration’s most aggressive climate policy rollbacks.

The compromise between the California Air Resources Board and Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America came after weeks of secret negotiations and could shape future U.S. vehicle production, even as White House officials aim to relax gas-mileage standards for the nation’s cars, pickups and SUVs.

California’s head air pollution regulator invited the Trump Administration to join the agreement. I don’t know whether she was being tactful or naive. To no one’s surprise, the Administration instead doubled down on its proposal to roll back mileage regulations.

Interestingly, the automobile companies approached California, not the other way around.

In a joint statement, the four automakers said their decision to hash out a deal with California was driven by a need for predictability, as well as desires to reduce compliance costs, keep vehicles affordable for customers and be good environmental stewards.

“These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” the group said.

The deal comes as the Trump administration is working to finalize a huge regulatory rollback that would freeze mileage requirements for cars and light trucks next fall at about 37 miles per gallon on average, rather than raising them over time to about 51 mpg for 2025 models — the level the industry and government agreed to during the Obama administration. The proposal also would revoke California’s long-standing authority to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has backed for decades.

It is hard–no it is impossible–to defend the rollback that the Trump Administration is intent on pursuing. Requiring cars to be more fuel-efficient is self-evidently a desirable goal: it would improve public health, combat climate change and save consumers money at the gas pump, all without compromising safety or inordinately burdening manufacturers.

The companies that are party to the agreement with California represent approximately 30% of the market, but that share could grow significantly if other automakers join, as observers anticipate. The Post reports that just last month, Canada pledged to align its gas-mileage targets with California rather than with the Trump administration.

The idiocy of that administration becomes clearer every day.

The transportation sector has emerged as the single-largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States, and the future gas mileage of the auto fleet will have a profound effect on the nation’s carbon footprint. According to the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, the Trump administration’s plan to freeze mileage standards between 2020 and 2026 would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by between 16 million and 37 million metric tons in that period. That is the equivalent of adding between 3.4 million and 7.8 million cars on the road.

Trump officials have consistently rejected the idea that the federal government should adopt policies aimed at weaning Americans off fossil fuels. NHTSA’s own analysis of its proposed mileage freeze projected that the increased greenhouse-gas emissions from the move would not make a major difference, because the world was on track to warm by seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century anyway. (Emphasis supplied)

We’re dying anyway, so let’s allow our donors to make money now.

Words fail.


  1. though,BMW!Volkswagon id 30% of national,its probably bigger in calif..
    we have a pirus driving around up here in NoDak with a full back window sign,,,
    “this car is coal powered! ” no go figure?

  2. Honest corporations; and there must be some honest corporations in this country simply due to the law of averages, even those other auto makers not named in the blog, are aware that Trump’s “aggressive climate rollbacks” are NOT the Law of the Land. They are NOT required to follow these foolhardy and life-threatening cutbacks and total repeal of regulations Trump & Co. are setting forth. Those who have followed EPA regulations; and again there must be some due to that law of averages, are allowed to continue their environmentally protective practices even though they are more costly than Trump’s & Co.’s further enriching the wealthy 1% in this country. It all comes down to the decision of morality or offshore banking to further cheat the American public and add to their tax burden to make up the difference.

  3. It appears that corporations that are truly connected to the public see climate change as a real danger, whereas disconnected corporations and the current administration see only dollar signs, the public be damned. On an individual level, we each need to think clearly about our daily choices that contribute to global warming and act accordingly.
    Think more… consume less and travel less.

  4. The rest of America has long benefited from California’s more stringent regulation of mileage and emissions standards. More cars are sold in California than in any other state and their regulations were toughest among the 50 states, so manufacturers built cars to be sold in America to meet the California standards.

    The worst part of the new regulations is the attack on states’ rights by this Republican Administration. Again, conservative hypocrisy rears its ugly head and proves that their entire belief system is transactional.

  5. Indiana has move backwards. Just because I had the nerve to buy a hybrid they charge me 50 dollars extra on the auto excise tax.

  6. The automakers are smart because of future demand and they can’t set up production for two to three types of emission producing engines to meet state requirements.

    Other than his gaffes (daily), I don’t believe anybody takes Trump seriously any longer. Well, unless his administration can pin the Epstein murder on Bill Clinton. 😉

    If Indiana expects to maintain roads with gasoline taxes, they don’t want cars paying less for gas no matter how that works out. But demand for high MPG cars/SUVs will trump Trump.

  7. The upcoming automobile transition will not be to more fossil fuel efficient cars but to electric vehicles but I don’t think that’s the big news. The big transition will be the trend to personal transportation as a service instead of a good – shared, autonomous Uber service type electrics. Many of us have purchased our last car and will be looking for other uses for our garages.

    Of course this is speaking about the world inside of blue states and outside of the US, the world in which we are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

    Personally I’m looking forward to it if my life extends into it.

    But what will people then use to advertise their wealth and success and superiority? That is the question.

  8. Yes. Todd is, from a manufacturing standpoint, absolutely correct. It’s less expensive to tool up for a standard design than for several different designs. The automakers mentioned also see who the sane negotiators are. The rest of the world, as usual, sees the dangers of global climate change. Our current administration refuses to see that. Trump is too stupid to know what he’s doing, but idiots like Pence, Ross, et. al. DO know who butters their bread.

    The most important phrase in today’s blog is: “the level the industry and government agreed to during the Obama administration.” The key word, of course, is “Obama”. Trump directs an administration that is all-in on the Obama Derangement Syndrome”.

  9. Lived and worked in California in the 80’s. It is an outdoor leisure year round culture. The populous narrative is about protecting the environment and promotion of healthy lifestyles. Car is both Queen and king. Car washes are like high end hair salons in Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. At the time the north and south engaged as political adversaries in intense civil discourse over water rights; Standard Oil, GM and Firestone partnered to lobby against fixed rail expansion. Yes…it is a conundrum. California and the European Union drive the greatest influence for environmental friendly auto production. The Trump administration is incredibly naive to think their very insular bubble at 1600 knows better to shape automotive futures.

  10. Profit is as good a guide for goodness as any other, and better than most others. Long range profit, that is. Long range profit very often promotes wise choices that benefit society as much as the corporation.

    Profit, per se, is not the evil that so many people allege. But SHORT RANGE PROFIT is at least the nefarious force that people wrongly presume the general idea of profit to be, and short range profit is often more pernicious.

    Liberals would get less push-back and more reform success by specifying “short term profit” when condemning villainous business tactics.

  11. Thank God for California and its market share of autos. This is one of the more promising moves of big automakers. When American auto makers were losing market share to moe fuel efficient and durable cars, I never could understand why the Big 3 American manufacturers didn’t decide to out-compete foreign carmakers. Why not produce MORE fuel efficient and cleaner cars and sell that kind of American exceptionalism? They were so tied to their pasts. Hopefully their deal with California is a sign of more progressive thinking.

  12. Our system of maintaining roads/highways has been financed by gasoline taxes. In Indiana the GOP majority legislature finally realized that they had no choice but to raise the gasoline tax because citizens were demanding that the roads be repaired. Of course, raising ANY type of tax was completely against their motto. I haven’t really heard anyone complain much about the higher taxes since we are now seeing some true repairs and actual resurfacing of the roads we drive on.

    The increase in auto fuel efficiency is going to demand that we find another way than a tax on each gallon of gas sold to create funds for road maintenance. The only fair way that I can think of at this point in time is for the BMV employees to be charged with checking mileage odometers on all vehicles when we apply for our annual license renewal. Each vehicle would be charged a fee based upon the miles driven since the prior renewal. This fee would then be used to charge owners for the miles actually driven and would distribute the costs of road repairs and maintenance based upon usage. The fees would also need to be adjusted based upon the weight of the vehicles and potential damage to roads. This adjustment already exists between semi trucks and cars.

    Of course, that would mean we would have to increase the number of employees at each BMV location to accomplish this and we could no longer apply for license renewals via phone, mail or online. The upside would be eliminating the taxes we now pay at the gas pumps.

    GASP! This could almost kill some of the GOP legislators who have been hellbent on reducing the size of government and reducing or eliminating taxes.

    This annual fee could potentially be large enough to cause people to believe that public transportation needs to be improved and increased where it already exists and to be created for rural areas where there is no current form.

  13. As Todd and Vernon point out this was purely a business decision by the automakers. And as Norris also points out it was in the context of vehicles produced that have to meet EU and other international market standards.

    Industries never regulate themselves to reduce the cost of externalities.

  14. Back when we had our gas crisis in the early 1970’s and then another in the late 1970’s, a golden opportunity presented itself. The shock was a rude one. Gas prices soared and we realized the Gulf Oil States controlled the spigot so to speak. The government, the auto makers and universities could have worked on a collaborative to increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine.

    Instead the USA had to commit vast military resources to the Mid-East and guaranteed the dictatorships in the Gulf a blank check to deny basic human rights to their own people, as long as the oil flowed.

    Renewable Green Energy from wind and solar could have been another project under taken by the government, industry and universities. At least from what I have read, the fossil fuel industry and their elected and appointed puppets have erected speed bumps and road blocks, all along the way.

    Drill baby, drill and fracking was the most recent response. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, there was a loophole that exempted fracking from safety regulations stemming from the Safe Drinking Water Act. With federal hands tied, it’s therefore up to the states to decide how they want to regulate fracking.

    Jul 15, 2019: Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom sacked the state’s top oil regulator after the Desert Sun reported that fracking permits in California doubled in the first six months of this year without the Governor’s knowledge. The Desert Sun report was based on data from FracTracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog, two organizations that keep tabs on the industry.

    The Desert Sun, based on data from the consumer advocacy groups, also reported that top officials with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) held investments in the oil and gas companies that they regulated. Roughly 45 percent of the permits went to companies that officials held stocks in, according to the watchdog groups. At the same time, nearly two dozen officials hired at the agency under former Governor Jerry Brown came from oil companies that have a presence in the state.

    Add to all of this President Agent Orange’s empty promise to bring King Coal back.

  15. Industries never regulate themselves to reduce the cost of externalities.

    Also think of gun manufacturers and the NRA in this same manner. For them, mass shootings are an externality. It has little or nothing to do with their righteous defense of the Constitution.

  16. It is good to see private enterprise irrespective of short term profit take the environmental mantle rather than the one that Trump & the fossil fuel greedhogs want to saddle us with until electric vehicles make gasoline-powered vehicles virtually obsolete. Let us hope the new arrangement between California and the carmakers Sheila cites today itself become obsolete in short order as innovation and a series of Democratic administrations save the day, so to speak.

    I can even envision a new and better Paris Accord that every nation state on the planet will approve, better air, de-acidified oceans (in time), more tree-planting, better human health etc. since, as Yogi noted, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Meanwhile, I have joined in Trump’s psychopathy and have it on good authority that it was not the Clintons who arranged for the demise of Epstein. My trusted source (Mrs. Lincoln) tells me it was John Wilkes Booth.

  17. How could we get this wrong? It was not the Clintons who arranged for the demise of Epstein; it was Obama.

  18. Gerald, according to Mrs. Lincoln’s tweet this morning, you might be correct. On the other hand, my own trusted source (Elizabeth I) tells me Epstein is still alive and is living next door to Elvis.

  19. The use of “cyanide bombs” to kill wild animals has been authorized by the Trump administration.

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the first step to re-authorise the spring-loaded traps, known as M-44s, which are filled with sodium cyanide.

    The devices are embedded in the ground and spray the poison when activated by animals attracted to bait, such as coyotes and foxes.

    So now we “mine” the USA with sodium cyanide. Gee what could go wrong?????

  20. You win, Alan, and I think Trump will adopt your version of Epstein’s demise and residence ere the sun sets, but in a return (if momentarily) to reality, why is there any serious question among Americans of any political stripe that it is long since time to dust off the 25th for serious application? Yes, that would give us Pastor Pence and prayer meetings eight days a week, but how could things get worse than at present with this demented soul and chatter from his sandbox? (Don’t ask, Gerald. You might get what you ask for.)

    On the other hand, perhaps (assuming no 25, impeachment, or Act of God) we should just tough it out until November, 2020, but even is we win that election I am still concerned because it’s a long time between early November 2020 and January 20, 2021, and who can know what an angry and rejected bigot will do or try to do during this interim between the election and transfer of power? Oh well, I have enough to worry about with this sick and hopelessly compromised man at the helm without worrying in advance, like wondering why Barr insisted that Epstein be removed from Ricker’s to a federal facility (under DOJ control which Barr heads). Uh. . .

  21. The entire global automobile industry is propped up by fantasy created by advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing and has been over our whole lives. It has increasingly less to do with transportation and more and more to do with the status of individuals in the wealth redistribution game.

    The young have caught on. Us elderly never will. We will always fall for it. But, we are continuously declining as a factor and our time is up.

    Our dreams are being rudely shoved aside by reality.

    Trump offers an alternative reality for those who would sacrifice freedom to give him power to maintain the illusion.

  22. From the article: “’These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations [while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions,]’ the group said.”

    Yes, well —- you can remove all the words that come after “while.” The statement has nothing, really, to do with greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Fact is, it’s cheaper to make one fleet of cars that adheres to one measure than to make several fleets.
    And people like saving money at the pump — so they’re likely to buy the more frugal cars anyhow.
    A financial and PR win/win for the companies participating.

    Oh, and then there’s the future. The SECOND Trump is out of office [assuming he doesn’t barricade himself in the White House with AR-15’s and tanks] the old plan [or a more stringent one] will be back in place.
    IOW, the environment has nothing to do with anything the car companies are doing. Nothing at all.

  23. There is the Republican fantasy of extending the Obama economic recovery artificially followed by a near fatal crash vs the Democrat reality of joining the rest of the world in adapting over time to the future that’s inevitably coming and that’s profoundly different than the past.

    Voters will choose soon.

  24. As has been pointed out (Todd, Vernon, twocrows) this was primarily a business decision, but at least the decision was to go with California instead of trying to beat it back to low Indiana standards.

    When I bought my Mustang convertible in San Diego decades ago, I paid about $500 (just under 3%) for the CA emissions package. Since my father still had a fleet discount with a dealer in Detroit, I looked into getting the car through that dealer and driving back after Thanksgiving. The dealer would have had to special order the car to include the emission package and it wouldn’t have saved me a penny.

    After moving to Illinois and taking the car to their periodic required emissions tests, I laughed at how the CA car had 100 to 10,000 times lower emissions than the required levels.

    Fast forward to now and the car we leased for my wife to drive last year qualifies for CA standards even though we bought it here in Greenwood, Indiana. This was a business decision, but given their choice of seeking the lowest common standard under a favorable administration or going along with California, the auto makers (who always complained that the mileage and emissions standards were impossible to meet — until forced to by law), finally decided to stop fighting and go with the more stringent standards.

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