More Bad Policy



The COVID-19 pandemic is very serious, but it is temporary.  On the other hand, the rollback of environmental regulations has a lasting effect, particularly if Trump is re-elected.

On Tuesday, March 31, the Trump administration announced its final rule rolling back the Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards. The fuel efficiency standard had been one of Obama’s signature achievements in the effort to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to global warming.

The Trump rule will allow new cars and trucks subject to the rule to emit a billion tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the lifetime of the vehicles than would otherwise have been permitted. 

A special interest group that supports the use of fossil fuels, the Institute for Energy Research, said the rollback is “the single most important thing that the administration can do to fulfill President Trump’s promise of reforming the regulatory state, and to undo the impact that the previous administration has had on the economy”.  You will note that he did not say that the new rule is good for or won’t harm the environment.  Every reputable, independent scientific group agrees that this rule is bad for the environment.

One would naturally think that automakers would be in favor of the rule, but that is not true.  The automakers favored a smaller rollback than the Trump rule.  What Trump did not consider is that automakers are competing in a global market and that market is demanding more fuel efficient vehicles.

Dr. David Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said: “One thing we’ve learned from the Trump administration is be careful what you ask for.  The auto industry wanted a smoother glide path to a more efficient future.  Instead, what they got was the populist politics of the far right, which is blowing up in their faces”.  It is also blowing up in our faces.

For more about this issue see The New York Times of March 31, 2020.  There is also a very good article in that issue on other Trump environmental rollbacks entitled “For Environmental Rollbacks, Devils Lurk in the Details” which describes what government scientists are doing to embed the real scientific data into rules that are at odds with that data.