4 Automakers Strike Emissions Deal With California, Steering Clear From Trump's Pro-Pollution Agenda
Jose Fuste Raga / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images Plus
By Jordan Davidson
Four automakers from three different continents have struck a deal with California and agreed to adhere to the state's stricter emissions standards, undercutting one of the Trump administration's environmental regulatory rollbacks, according to The New York Times.
The agreement between the California Air Resources Board and Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America followed weeks of secret negotiations. The four automakers agreed to a fleet average of 51 mpg for light-duty vehicles by the 2026 model year. That's slightly lower and longer than the fuel economy standards of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 set by the Obama administration in 2012.
The four major automakers' agreement to legitimize California's authority to set emissions standards runs counter to a White House plan to take that right from the states, as Reuters reported.
Under the Trump administration's plans to roll back the Obama-era regulations, emissions standards would top out at 37 miles per gallon. California and 13 other states stood in defiance and vowed to enforce the stricter standards, setting up an uncomfortable situation for automakers where the market would be split in two, according to The New York Times.
The agreement is a win for the automakers. They will have slightly more time to deliver vehicles that will have to meet standards nearly as ambitious as the Obama administration set forth. And, it will put an end to conflicting state and federal standards.
"Ensuring that America's vehicles are efficient, safe and affordable is a priority for us all," the automakers said in a joint statement, as Motor1 reported. "These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions."
Despite the agreement, the Trump administration plans to curtail California's ability to set its own standard. It has vowed to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. By striking a deal with California, the automakers are betting California has the stronger legal case, according to The New York Times.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and one auto executive familiar with the negotiations expected other automakers to join the deal. Additional signees is an important step to an industry-driven new national standard since the four companies in the agreement only represent 30 percent of the U.S. car market, as The New York Times reported.
While car companies have balked at the Obama-era standards because of the American car markets demand for SUVs and pick up trucks, the California deal has concessions that may be palatable to many automakers. Margo Oge, a former senior U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official who now works as an informal adviser to several auto companies, told The New York Times, "I have been calling all these companies and telling them to cut a deal with California. I think G.M. and Toyota will also have the courage to sign on."
There is also hope that the agreement will open the door to working with the White House. Mary Nichols, California's top air pollution regulator, said the agreement is a potential ''olive branch'' to the Trump administration and hopes it joins the deal, as The Washington Post reported.
"This agreement represents a feasible and acceptable path to accomplishing the goals of California and the automobile industry," said Nichols, as the Hill reported. "If the White House does not agree, we will move forward with our current standards but work with individual carmakers to implement these principles. At the same time, if the current federal vehicle standards proposal is finalized, we will continue to enforce our regulations and pursue legal challenges to the federal rule."
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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