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Trump Attacks Vehicle Standards on Clean Air

President Trump will sign a series of Executive Orders tomorrow to roll back federal regulations on pollution and climate change, according to reports. The orders will rollback the tailpipe regulations under the CAFE standard set by the Obama Administration. The Clean Air Act waiver for California emissions, which directly affects New Jersey since we are one of the fourteen states who opted into their emissions program. Obama’s tailpipe rules are locked into place for model years through 2021. There may be a legal loophole for Trump on the CAFE standard because EPA did not jointly release its plan with the Department of Transportation for 2022 through 2025. These standards would have reduced climate pollution by as much as 6 billion metric tons over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold in model years 2012-2025—the equivalent to carbon pollution from 150 typical coal-fired power plants for an entire year.

“The President is clearly going after clean air and the environment with the rollback of fuel efficiency standards. This is also a huge sell out of our economy and consumers. By eliminating and weakening federal standards tail pipe emissions, our President is not only attacking our lungs, he is attacking our wallets. These standards not only help reduce air pollution, but saves us money on the pump because the less efficient are vehicles are the more we will need to buy gasoline. By forcing us to buy more gasoline, it will raise the price, which will be a double whammy on our wallets. Instead of driving our economy forward with cleaner vehicles, Trump is working to increase greenhouse gas emissions, which cost us more money and exacerbate climate impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The weakening of vehicle efficiency standards will directly impact public health in New Jersey. For a state like New Jersey, these changes will hit us right where we believe because cars and trucks are the biggest sources of air pollution. While New Jerseyans spend more money at the pump, we will see more asthma and respiratory problems.”

The EPA will also begin legal proceedings to revoke a waiver for California that was allowing the state to enforce the tougher tailpipe standards for its drivers. This will directly impact New Jersey because we are one of fourteen states that use the same standards of tail pipe emissions as California, along with states like New York, Massachusetts and Maryland. In one of the biggest legislative battles, we fought against Governor Whitman to pass the Clean Car legislation to require our state reduce tailpipe emissions through the California waiver.

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“Trump getting rid of the waiver will have direct impacts on New Jersey because we use the stricter standard to reduce air pollution. It not only mean more pollution from tailpipes, but undercut our use of hybrids and electric vehicles that help reduce air pollution, grow jobs, and lessen climate impacts. By eliminating this waiver, it will hurt New Jersey more than other states because we get most of our air pollution from trucks and cars. Since these emissions standards have been in place we have seen about 20 percent cleaner emissions from conventional vehicles. Now we will see less credits and mandates to require electric vehicles that further help our pollution reduction goals like the low carbon rule,” said Jeff Tittel.“Since states using the California standard are the largest and wealthiest with a lot of vehicle sales, the auto industry had been making more fuel efficient vehicles based on their standard. Without these requirements, now the emissions coming out of our tailpipes will be dirtier and auto makers won’t have any incentive to make electric and hybrid vehicles. That is why companies that have invested money in these standards will fight back. States like California and others who are part of that coalition, including New Jersey when we get a new Governor will sue against these changes. With the lawsuits against Trump’s attacks, it could help delay these bad rules or help overturn them all together.”

The tailpipe pollution regulations were among President Obama’s major initiatives to reduce global warming. They would have forced automakers to build passenger cars that achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, compared with about 36 miles per gallon today. Eventually achieving those targets would have drastically reduced the nation’s vehicle tailpipe pollution, which accounts for about a third of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions. After withdrawing the Obama administration’s requirement for model years 2022 through 2025, the Trump administration will have a year to put forth an alternative set of efficiency standards, which will likely rollback the standards significantly.

“This plan wants to replace the Tesla with a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlus. Instead of moving forward with electric vehicles, green jobs, and cost savings for consumers, Trump is pushing the fossil foolishness of the past. This is a huge blow to consumers who want electric and hybrid vehicles, which decreases our impact on climate change. Now the federal government is working with auto makers and the oil and gas industry to rollback standards. Not only does Big Oil make more money on the deal, but car companies will save money because they won’t have to install the extra equipment,” said Jeff Tittel. “People should be angry that the auto industry is pushing for this because it will make our air dirtier and our fuel more expensive. It will even hurt jobs in the auto industry because the the cleaner less polluting vehicles are made in the United States so these weakened standards will make it easier to export jobs to other countries.”

On Feb. 21, a coalition of the 17 largest auto makers in the United States sent two letters to Scott Pruitt, asking him to revisit the tailpipe rules. They said it may be “the single most important decision the E.P.A. has made in recent history.” They complained about the steep technical challenge posed by the stringent standard, noting that only about 3.5 percent of new vehicles are able to reach it. That even excludes some hybrid cars, plug-in electric cars and fuel cell vehicles, the automakers wrote. The companies told Trump last month that they found those technical requirements too burdensome. The regulatory rollback on vehicle pollution will relax restrictions on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and will not require action by Congress.

“Fuel efficiency standards are even more critical now that our President was in lock step with the fossil fools in Washington. Trump is not only a climate change denier, he continues to support fossil fuels over renewable energy. His actions will heavily increase our depends on oil, gas, and coal over things like solar and wind. This will increase proposals for dangerous pipelines like Pilgrim, while exacerbating the demand for oil bomb trains and offshore drilling,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “By prohibiting the increase of electric vehicles, it is not only bad for the environment, but bad for the economy because these cars help promote green jobs. As long we give Big Oil & Gas free range to continue to drill for fossil fuels, we will see climate change and its effects such as sea level rise escalate. The auto makers and fossil fuel industry are clearly working together to increase our dependence on dirty fuels so they can pocket more money. Remember, General Motors was founded by Exxon to sell gasoline so it is not a surprise with Trump in office they are working together to rollback regulations. Trump’s plan is a Edsel.”

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