Pruitt Races to the Bottom with Auto Industry

BY ON April 3, 2018


family in gas masks behind car illustration

With his announcement that he will weaken the clean car standards for U.S. automakers, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has thrown the auto industry into reverse and is rolling downhill as if he were in a race to the bottom.

U.S. automakers helped bring this move on themselves — even though they carefully helped craft the standards that were put in place five years ago — by being too timid, for too long, to stand up for what is right. Late in the game, several manufacturers — Ford and Honda chief among them — made public statements against weakened standards.

But those companies didn’t stop their own Automakers Alliance from colluding with Pruitt to weaken those standards. To make matters worse: the lobbyists who gave Pruitt below-market value for sleepovers at their condo represent the American Automotive Policy Council, whose members are GM, Chrysler, and Ford. The swamp is churning.

Pruitt’s decision is politically motivated: prompted by a deeply-held ideological bias against any rules created by the Obama Administration. That’s why, so far, his EPA has done nothing but destroy or weaken protections for our health. Pruitt’s decision is not based on the technical merits of the car standard. He cannot — and does not — even claim it is.

Pruitt was meant to announce the weakening of the rules at Pohanka Chevy, owned by a well-known climate denier. Instead, Mary Barra — CEO of GM and Chevy, and a mother — should be taking leadership against the weaker standards. She should understand that keeping the air clean should be a non-partisan issue — a mom partisan issue.

Pruitt cancelled today’s event at the Chevy dealer — because it has become so unpopular not only with automakers, but with the people EPA is supposed to protect. Us.

Pruitt’s decision is creating confusion and unpredictability in the marketplace: chaos Pruitt rails against. Auto makers will have to create cars for California and 12 other states that have strong standards; cars for the rest of the country. And then there’s the international market, where US makers want to be competitive. They won’t be, not by putting polluters on the road. International markets are demanding more fuel efficient vehicles.

Pruitt is ready to trample on the states’ rights that he claims to value: he is aiming squarely at California’s legally-granted right to set its standards. Twelve other states have chosen to comply with California’s standards. I guess it is okay for states to set their own agendas if he agrees with them, but not, if he doesn’t.

And who will be paying the price for more polluting cars? We will—not only at the gas station, but at hospitals and doctors’ offices. Tailpipe emissions are among the most dangerous to the health of our lungs and hearts.

Pruitt’s decision will mean this administration will downgrade, once again, any efforts to get climate pollution under control. Pruitt’s entire agenda goes against all the research results of atmospheric scientists as to what we are doing to destabilize our climate. He’s gone so far as to purge a lot of climate science from EPA websites.

Of course, the planet could care less about EPA’s version of reality. Warming temperatures will continue unabated, until they reach levels that are beyond our ability to control.

That’s what a race to the bottom looks like. Pruitt should understand one thing: it is hellish.

I don’t know how he sleeps at night. I find hope in the outpouring of protest against the latest EPA move. No one voted to Make America Dirty Again.







TOPICS: Air Pollution, California, Cars and Trucks, Children's Health, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, EPA, Politics, Pollution