Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

EPA Watchdog to Investigate Trump's Tailpipe Emissions Rollback

Politics
EPA Watchdog to Investigate Trump's Tailpipe Emissions Rollback
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC on Sept. 8, 2014. aa440 / Flickr

The inspector general for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will look into one of the Trump administration's hallmark environmental rollbacks: the weakening of Obama-era emissions standards. The law from the Obama administration was designed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing fuel-efficiency standards. Now, the EPA's inspector general will try to determine whether or not the rollback violated the government's own laws, according to CNN.


The inspector general said yesterday that its review would determine whether the agency's rule followed requirements for "transparency, record-keeping, and docketing, and followed the EPA's process for developing final regulatory actions," according to EPA documents, as CNN reported.

In other words, the inspector general would like to see the paper trail that led to the decision and to see if there was undue influence or ethics violations from industry insiders for the slackening of tailpipe emissions standards, which was finalized in late March as the Trump administration's single largest rollback of federal climate change rules, according to The New York Times.

The new rule, named the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles rule, or SAFE, holds automakers to weaker fuel economy standards through 2025. The SAFE rule lowered the annual emission improvement requirements that the makers of passenger vehicles must meet. Rather than growing approximately 5 percent annually as required under an Obama-era mandate, the standards now increase about 1.5 percent annually. The Trump administration originally proposed freezing the standards entirely, as CNN reported.

The Obama era rule would have forced new cars to have a fuel efficiency standard of 54 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2025. The rollback of the law in the SAFE rule will essentially add 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increase gasoline consumption by around 80 billion gallons, and increase oil consumption by 2 billion barrels, according to The Verge.

The potential "irregularities" in crafting the rule were flagged in May by Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, who asked for an investigation in a letter to the EPA inspector general at the time, as The Verge reported.

"I'm pleased that the EPA Inspector General is opening an investigation into this rule, which was the product of the most procedurally problematic process my office has ever reviewed. If the EPA IG follows the facts, I have no doubt they will find that the Trump Administration failed to follow the law," Carper said in a statement Monday, according to The Verge.

The SAFE rule was marred with problems from the beginning. The Trump administration argued the rule would make roads safer because cars would be more affordable, making people more likely to upgrade. However, outside economists and public health experts have questioned the administration's justification of the rule, noting that its calculations do not stand up to rigorous independent analysis. They have asked the administration to release the formulas and economic models used to inform its justification, according to The New York Times.

In fact, the administration's own internal analyses showed that the opposite was true. It would create a higher cost for consumers than leaving the Obama-era standard in place and would contribute to more deaths associated with lung disease by releasing more pollution into the air, as The New York Times reported.

"This is really serious," said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund to The New York Times. "It's rare for E.P.A.'s inspector general to conduct an investigation of the agency's rule-making."

Sun Cable hopes to start construction of the world's largest solar farm in 2023. Sun Cable
A large expanse of Australia's deserted Outback will house the world's largest solar farm and generate enough energy to export power to Singapore, as The Guardian reported.
Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Construction on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric station in 2015. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.

Read More Show Less

Trending

We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.

Read More Show Less
A new study has revealed that Earth's biggest mass extinction was triggered by volcanic activity that led to ocean acidification. Illustration by Dawid Adam Iurino (PaleoFactory, Sapienza University of Rome) for Jurikova et al (2020)

The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.

Read More Show Less
Coronavirus-sniffing dogs Miina and Kössi (R) are seen in Vantaa, Finland on September 2, 2020. Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva / AFP/ Getty Images

By Teri Schultz

Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.

Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch