Donald Trump presents: The Freeway of Tomorrow!

The Trump administration is expected to announce today that it's revoking California's ability to set tougher fuel efficiency standards than the federal government, because sweet Jesus that man hates California and he really wants to own the libs. The move is part of the administration's wider rollback of any vestige of federal action aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, because Fox News told Donald Trump science is a hoax, and that eliminating Barack Obama's regulations on CO2 will bring American industry roaring back to life. Get ready for a raft of lawsuits, since California's authority to set its own air quality standards was built right into the 1970 Clean Air Act, and has been repeatedly renewed by Congress.

Oh, yes, and the move will add an extra frisson of uncertainty to the auto market, as vehicle makers are already coping with Trump's trade war with China and his repeated threats to impose tariffs on Mexico, both major sources of parts for US automakers. No big, it's only a major economic sector, why should that worry anyone? Blame Democrats for failing to give up their silly obsession with "doing something" about global warming.

Trump has been gunning for California's stronger standards since last summer, when EPA Director Andrew Wheeler announced the revocation would be part of a wider rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards. The New York Times reports that effort "has become plagued with delays as staff members struggled to prepare legal, technical or scientific justifications for it," so the administration decided to rush forward with just the California part first. For one thing, the administration wants to try to get the inevitable lawsuits to the Supreme Court while Trump is still in office, since any new Democratic administration would simply roll back the rollback.

But far more importantly, Trump was super-pissed off last month when four big automakers -- Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW North America -- agreed with California to keep building vehicles to its tougher standards regardless of what the administration does. That prompted an "anti-trust" investigation from the Department of Justice, because apparently an agreement to make cleaner vehicles constitutes price-fixing or something. And it also sent President Barstool to the toilet for some Twitter time, where he insisted that if automakers would merely start building gas guzzlers like Dok Zoom's 1973 Chevy, Vlad the Impala, again, they could sell cheaper, safer cars, because everyone knows all that antipollution stuff just makes cars run like crap and cost thousands of dollars more. And as every Archie Bunker knows, big cars save lives! (They don't, really, but they certainly kill more people in other cars, and that's what life is all about.)

Speaking Tuesday to the National Automobile Dealers Association, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who regularly lies about "clean air," explained the planet needs a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere for the sake of efficiency:

We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation.

See? States' rights are good, but not if they make decisions that really piss off Donald Trump. And in a perverse sense, Wheeler is right, in that California has led the way in improving air quality and pollution control standards, although crazy environmental kooks would call that leadership, not a dictatorship. California has often been the first to require things like catalytic converters, regulations on nitrogen oxides, and "check engine" systems to promote cleaner air, all of which piss off the great automotive experts like President Grampa. Too many doodads just mean more things to break down! Never mind that modern cars have actually become far more reliable than in the glory days Trump dreams of bringing back. Or that 13 other states have agreed to adopt California's standards.

The San Jose Mercury-News touches on the real reason for Trump's war on California's higher standards.

The state's "advanced clean car" standards require new vehicles to emit 40% fewer greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, by 2025, compared to 2016 levels. They have been copied by 13 other states.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which come from the burning of fossil fuels, has had the effect of forcing automakers to increase gas mileage. Obama adopted California's standard as the federal standard in 2012, which he said at the time would require an average fleet fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon on new vehicles sold in 2025.

Clearly, that standard has to go, because it combines the two things Trump hates most: Obama, and California acting like he's not the boss of them. And sure, the Obama standard would keep 6 billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, but the administration insists a 1975 law, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, actually prohibits states from setting independent fuel efficiency standards, so for 45 years, Congress and all other presidents have actually been letting California act illegally, shame on them.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra are already planning to sue over the rule as soon as it's published, and European automakers are already required to meet the higher standards, so Trump's new rules seem pretty pointless. But they'll appeal to Fox News viewers who insist their '87 Continentals were the acme of comfort and efficiency, so Trump has already won their enduring loyalty, the end.

And if nothing else, Trump has certainly added to the motivation for Friday's nationwide Climate Strikes aimed at calling attention to the need to clean up our act.

[WaPo / NYT / Mercury-News / Image: "Hollywood Freeway," 1970, US EPA]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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