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Trump Uses Pandemic to Quietly Roll Back Major Environmental Regulations

Who needs clean air during a viral respiratory outbreak?

cars on freeway

Instead of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump has rolled back a series of landmark environmental initiatives designed to combat climate change. The move reverses a policy put in place by Barack Obama in 2012, which required car companies to comply with new gas mileage and emissions requirements.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, “We are delivering on President Trump’s promise to correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards,” while adding that their plan “strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry.”

The new rule would be a boon for oil and gas companies and would undo some of America’s most aggressive climate change policies. Cars and light trucks account for more than 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. So much for COVID-19 decreasing worldwide pollution.

And who needs clean air during a time when our planet is being ravaged by a respiratory illness? I would facepalm, but we’re not supposed to touch our faces. Sigh.

Obama’s resolution mandated that cars made from 2017-2025 must have annual fuel economy increases of 5%, reaching an average of 54 mpg by 2025. Trump’s new rule proposes instead an annual 1.5% increase and a goal of 40mpg by 2026. This is a step down from Trump’s previous goal, which was to freeze current fuel economy numbers and make zero efforts to increase mileage.

And while Trump claims this will make cars cheaper and boost the economy, the opposite is true. Drivers may pay up to $1,000 less for new cars, but they will be spending much more on gas. It’s no surprise then, that some of Trump’s biggest donors are oil and gas companies.

Miles Keogh, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, called the change “appalling”, saying “We know coronavirus preys on people with respiratory problems, and this dirty air rule will make more Americans vulnerable.”

Furthermore, these gas-guzzling, non-energy efficient vehicles won’t sell internationally, as much of the rest of the world has implemented their own greenhouse gas emissions limits. The only people who stand to benefit from these changes are the CEOs and board members of oil and gas companies.

Natural Resources Defense Council President Gina McCarthy released a statement saying, “Gutting the clean car standards makes no sense. It will harm the air we breathe, stall progress in fighting the climate crisis and increase the cost of driving, … We’ll be seeing the Trump administration in court.”

Democratic states and environmental organizations will be fighting the new regulations in court. They will likely be led by the state of California, which has imposed some of the most aggressive auto standards in the country.

(via LA Times, image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.