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Trump hates America, but thankfully California loves us

08/07/2019 6:12 pm ET
Trump wants to keep us addicted to oil and pollution, California wants to free us

Screenshot Tesla

President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards would keep America addicted to oil and dramatically increase U.S. air pollution.

But California is trying to free us from oil and pollution, through a deal it struck recently with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW to avoid the full rollback. That deal would accelerate deployment of high efficiency electric vehicles (EVs).

So, naturally, the Trump Administration is trying to kill the California deal — and end California’s long-standing ability to negotiate stronger car standards than the Federal government.

Yet a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) last week makes clear that the rapid price drops in the cost of batteries that have driven the EV revolution this decade will continue for the next decade.

So while Trump can slow adoption of high-efficiency EVs in the United States, other countries — the EU and especially China — will simply keep adopting them so quickly that he cannot stop the global EV revolution.

Trump’s pro-oil moves ensure only that U.S. companies and workers are far less likely to be the major beneficiaries of this massive job-creating revolution.

Trump working to pay back Big Oil

Since his election, Trump has been working overtime to pay back his Big Oil backers — who have been major donors both to his campaign and to the Republican Party. Not only has he been pushing expanded drilling for climate-destroying fossil fuels, but he has also embraced policies that would increase U.S. dependency on oil.

Trump’s biggest effort to date is his plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for new cars. That rollback would cost consumers nearly $100 billion dollars in missed fuel savings — a net cost to individual car buyers of $1,650 each as the EPA has concluded.

Rolling back the standards would also boost U.S. oil consumption by a stunning 1.2 billion gallons over the lifetime of the model-year 2022–2025 cars. It would also increase U.S. carbon pollution by 540 billion tons over that time period.

California working to free us from Big Oil

California has long held a waiver giving it the ability to set its own, tougher, fuel efficiency standards. And since the state has such a huge car-centric economy, these tougher standards have forced car companies to meet the state’s standards. At the same time, over a dozen other states now use California’s standards.

A second BNEF analysis last week found that, if California’s new standards were “adopted nationally, they would require around half the EV sales share to close the gap between automakers’ performance and their targets,” compared to Obama’s original standards.

Trump’s policies are therefore doubly backwards. First, his lower standards mean much higher carbon pollution and much higher urban air pollution in this country. Second, the EV revolution is unstoppable globally. So, throttling back the national EV market merely leaves U.S. car companies and workers lagging behind in the most important vehicle revolution in a century.

But just as Trump looks backward in his efforts to promote the climate-destroying fuels of the twentieth century, he also looks backward to promote the inefficient, highly polluting internal combustion engine cars of the last century.

Read more at ThinkProgress.

— JR