California Won’t Buy From Automakers ‘on the Wrong Side of History’ in Emissions Fight With Trump
California will stop buying vehicles from the more than a dozen automakers including General Motors (GM), Fiat Chrysler and Toyota who sided with the Trump administration on the question of whether the state has the authority to set its own emissions standards, CalMatters first reported Friday.
The news came the same day that the state's Department of General Services announced a ban on cars powered only by gas. The department said that state agencies would stop buying gas-powered vehicles immediately and would cease sales from automakers who sided with Trump in January 2020.
"Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of CA's buying power," California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Saturday.
Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of CA’s buying power.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 16, 2019
CA will stop purchasing vehicles from carmakers that have refused to protect our air & chosen to follow the regressive ways of @realDonaldTrump. https://t.co/WpW2Eotaxl
California's decision is the latest in an escalating feud between the state and the Trump administration over vehicle fuel efficiency standards designed to fight the climate crisis.
The Obama administration had proposed fuel efficiency standards that would have required carmakers to achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, removing around six billion tons of carbon dioxide over the vehicles' lifetimes, The New York Times explained. When the Trump administration proposed capping standards at around 37 miles per gallon, California and 13 other states said they would stick to the tougher standards, potentially splitting the U.S. auto market. This led Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America to strike a deal with California in July and agree to build fleets averaging 51 miles per gallon by model year 2026.
The Trump administration then officially revoked California's waiver under the Clean Air Act to set its own tailpipe emissions standards in September. California and 22 other states sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the same month to block this decision, and this is when car companies like GM and Toyota filed a motion on behalf of the administration, supporting its case in the suit. California's new ban is a response to this motion.
"It certainly sends a strong message to the automakers that have come out on the other side of California in this litigation," Julia Stein, supervising attorney at the University of California Los Angeles Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, told CalMatters. "It's taking steps to encourage automakers to be on what it views as the right side of that dispute."
It is unclear how much California's ban will impact the automakers, The New York Times reported.
Around 17 million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S. last year, but the state of California only buys 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles annually. It currently owns 14,000 Fords, 10,000 vehicles made by GM, 4,000 by Fiat Chrysler and 1,200 by Toyota.
However, CalMatters reported that GM in particular stood to lose from the ban, since the state spent $27 million on GM-owned Chevrolet cars in 2018. GM was also the only impacted company to give a statement to Reuters and The New York Times through spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan:
"Removing vehicles like the Chevy Bolt and prohibiting GM and other manufacturers from consideration will reduce California's choices for affordable, American-made electric vehicles and limit its ability to reach its goal of minimizing the state government's carbon footprint, a goal that GM shares."
Between 2016 and 2018, California spent $58.6 million on GM cars, $55.8 million on Fiat Chrysler vehicles, $10.6 million on Toyotas and $9 million on Nissans, another company that sided with Trump, Reuters reported.
Both the ban on gas-powered cars and the ban on Trump-supporting automakers will have exceptions for public safety vehicles, according to CalMatters and The New York Times.
Also on Friday, California and 22 other states launched a parallel lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which was part of the decision to revoke its waiver, according to CalMatters.
The final Trump administration emissions standards are expected within months, according to Reuters, and are anticipated to boost efficiency by around 1.5 percent a year. This is less of an increase than both the original Obama standards and the deal California struck with the four automakers in July.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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