As part of their plan to wreck planet Earth simply because they heard that’s where Barack Obama keeps his stuff, Donald Trump’s anti-EPA is preparing to weaken both emissions standards and fuel efficiency requirements for vehicles. Because there’s nothing like kneecapping the future.
The rules also would have put the United States, historically a laggard in fuel economy regulations, at the forefront worldwide in the manufacture of electric and highly fuel efficient vehicles. …
American automakers initially accepted the plan by Mr. Obama in 2009 to harmonize what was then a hodgepodge of pollution and efficiency standards set by the E.P.A., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California. And the automakers weren’t in much of a position to resist; they had just taken an $80 billion bailout to survive a global economic crisis.
But any gratitude manufacturers felt is many financial quarters in the past.
It’s not difficult to guess the results of creating “relaxed” standards for emissions and fuel economy in the United States while the rest of the world, plus California, keeps moving ahead. We don’t really have to guess, because we’ve been there before. For decades, Republican lawmakers like Missouri’s Roy Blunt fought to keep fuel economy standards low and emission standards lax. That allowed US automakers to build vehicles more cheaply, without investing in either the research or retooling needed to generate more and cleaner miles. It also had a immediate result on vehicles in the US market—the US became a dumping ground for older engines. Even if consumers wanted something better, they found that European and Asian manufacturers often sold more efficient cars in other markets, and vehicles a generation or more behind in the US.
In the short term, reducing standards might allow US makers to generate more dollars per vehicle sold, reduce development costs, and provide extra margins that would give them more potential pricing flexibility. And US developers could still create cars suitable for world markets—they just would not make them here. In other words, manufacturers would win by making their “world market” cars outside the US, saddling US consumers with inferior products, and pocketing the change.
And that’s before calculating the environmental cost.