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Trump Fuel Efficiency Proposal Is Attack on Global Climate and States' Rights, Critics Say
The Trump administration followed through on a move long dreaded by environmental groups and several states Thursday, publishing an official proposal to rollback Obama-era vehicle emissions standards and to revoke California's waiver to set stricter air pollution standards under the Clean Air Act, E&E News reported.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the proposal that offers up a series of car rule options, but pushes capping fuel economy standards from 2021 on at around 37 miles per gallon, instead of increasing them to an average of around 54 miles per gallon by 2025 as the Obama administration proposed, The New York Times reported.
The proposal also announces a public comment period on revoking California's waiver to set its own standards, which 13 other states representing close to 40 percent of the country's car market have also adopted, according to E&E News.
The proposal would gut the one piece of federal policy focused on reducing climate-change causing pollution from the sector that has become the nation's chief greenhouse gas emitter, allowing vehicles to emit an additional 600 million metric tons (approximately 661 U.S. tons) of carbon dioxide by 2030, an amount equal to Canada's annual emissions, The Huffington Post reported.
"We are delivering on President Trump's promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards," acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler said in a statement reported by E&E News.
But many would disagree that the new proposal represents a fix.
"It's an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America's auto industry," Union of Concerned Scientists president Ken Kimmell told The Guardian. "The Trump administration has decided to force America's drivers to spend more at the gas pump, burn millions more barrels of oil, and put us on a path to greater harm from climate change."
Attorney generals from 19 states have already said they would sue to block the rule if it is finalized, The New York Times reported.
California Gov. Jerry Brown also promised a fight if his state's waiver is revoked. "For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere," Brown told The New York Times.
Even Republicans are concerned about the precedent revoking California's waiver would set on states' rights issues.
"There's not an ideological push here, there's just, 'We're going to do whatever industry wants, and if Obama did anything, it's bad and we'll undo it,'" EPA administrator under former President George W. Bush Christine Todd Whitman told The Huffington Post. "I don't think the president has thought through what used to be a basic principle of Republicans, and that's states' rights."
Administration officials are using vehicle safety to justify lower emissions standards, arguing that the lighter cars required by stricter standards would cause around 12,700 more auto-accident deaths over the next 13 years, The New York Times reported.
However, the Obama administration concluded that more fuel efficient cars would actually reduce auto fatalities by 100 over the same time period, and other scientists find fault with the administration's numbers.
"The administration's effort to roll back these standards is a denial of basic science and a denial of American automakers' engineering capabilities and ingenuity," University of Michigan transportation technology expert John DeCicco told The New York Times.
There is also debate over what the proposal could mean for electric vehicles, since it also axes a requirement that car makers build more hybrids and EVs.
Pasquale Romano, the CEO of ChargePoint, the country's largest EV charging company, told The McClatchy DC Bureau that the proposal would "turn back the clock" on both pollution reduction and the development of the EV industry in the U.S.
U.S. employment in the EV sector fell this year due to competition from China and uncertainty over U.S. regulations, The McClatchy DC Bureau reported.
But Brett Hauser, CEO of EV charging network provider Greenlots, thought that ultimately the future was on EV's side, despite the Trump administration's proposal.
"The transition to electric vehicles is going to happen regardless of mandates or subsidies because technological advances are enabling EV's to outperform their internal combustion counterparts at a more economical price point. The signals sent by the administration are disappointing, but California will continue to have a robust toolset for accelerating the transition to electrified transportation," he said in an email.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."