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article imageThe real cost of Trump's rollback of clean car standards

By Karen Graham     Aug 7, 2019 in Politics
The Trump administration’s push to freeze existing federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards will cost consumers up to $400 billion through 2050 and raise GHG emissions 10 percent.
The data is based on new modeling published by Energy Innovation using the Energy Policy Simulator.
The Energy Innovation report goes hand-in-hand with a report published last week by the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups. The BlueGreen Alliance report looked at the job market under a rollback of clean car rules as well as the job market if the Obama-era rules were left in place.
Currently, the EPA and the NHTSA are proposing to freeze fuel economy requirements at 2020 levels through 2026. That would allow cars to travel on average about 35 mpg rather than the 50 mpg mandated by President Obama. The agencies are also proposing to revoke California's Clean Air Act waiver for greenhouse gases.
Fourteen states plus D.C., have adopted California’s standards, totaling more than 35 percent of the automobile market. Additionally, four major automakers, including Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda, have reached a deal with California to increase gas mileage standards and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, setting a national standard, a longtime auto industry goal.
The big question of What if?
If California and the state coalition prevail in protecting long-standing state authority, as many Clean Air Act legal experts believe, and if the Trump administration goes forward with finalizing the clean car rules rollback, we will have a huge mess on our hands, according to Energy Innovation.
If California and its coalition are successful, the GHG emissions standards would only affect 65 percent of automobile sales, creating a split market catering to two different standards. There will also be considerable regulatory uncertainty associated with the litigation challenging the vehicle standards freeze.
EU ministers agreed to a 35 percent CO2 reduction in emissions for new cars by 2030 compared to mode...
EU ministers agreed to a 35 percent CO2 reduction in emissions for new cars by 2030 compared to models made for 2021
Ina Fassbender, dpa/AFP/File
The economic and emissions impacts of a split standards scenario are therefore unclear but could cost U.S. consumers between $240 and $400 billion. And when we add the four automakers who have joined California and its clean car standards, this further weakens the Trump administrations efforts to attack California's authority.
However, the damage to the economy and the automotive industry won't be confined to just this country. Canada and other countries will be hit. European countries have been adopting very tough emissions standards, and this means American automakers would need to make two types of models, with one being less efficient for consumers in this country.
Canada has historically aligned with U.S. emission standards, however, Canada recently signaled it will side with California in the case of two separate standards, following California’s requirements should the waiver remain in place.
Zoe Lipman, director of the Vehicles and Advanced Transportation Program at the BlueGreen Alliance said: "We are seeing comment now because the agencies are realizing that they will soon have to defend a greatly weakened final rule that would have — should it be implemented — real, visible, negative impacts on American workers, manufacturing and competitiveness."
John DeCicco, a professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute, suggests that implementing the clean car rollback rules is nothing more than a pre-election ploy by the White House.
"As we move into the higher-pitched election season ... it's no surprise that this administration would make claims that lack a factual basis," he said.
More about clean car regulations, Trump administration, Automakers, Emissions, Job losses
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