Automakers have officially submitted a letter asking the new head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, to abdicate his responsibility for protecting the environment by loosening the fuel efficiency standards they agreed upon with the Obama administration in 2011. Pruitt, who calls himself a “leading advocate against the EPA” and has spent much of his life fighting against the agency, has received over $270,000 in lifetime campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Incidentally, Pruitt also denies that burning oil and gas causes global warming. Surely there’s no connection between that opinion and the campaign contributions he’s received.
The automakers claim that the 54.5mpg CAFE standard would be too costly to implement by 2025, and that consumer demand isn’t there for more efficient vehicles, even as EV sales continue to experience massive growth.
In totally unrelated news, as of three months ago, Tesla had well over half a billion dollars worth of customer deposits, most of which are for a car that nobody has even driven yet, but is significantly more efficient than the new rule requires. That car was unveiled a year ago as the biggest product launch of all time, with an unprecedented tens of thousands of customers camping out overnight or lining up early at stores worldwide to put a deposit of real, actual money down on a car they hadn’t even seen yet. Tesla’s 2014 CAFE performance was 278.9 mpg, over five times higher and eleven years earlier than the 54.5mpg 2025 target the automakers, who have much more experience than Tesla, claim they cannot possibly meet.
The group which submitted the letter, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), represents twelve companies and 77% of car and light truck sales in the United States. There’s no real surprise that they’ve submitted this letter, as we reported before that virtually all automakers except for Tesla and a few French automakers were lobbying the prospective administration for a loosening of any restrictions which might require them to be even the tiniest bit socially responsible.
In addition to causing global warming, oil and the pollutants emitted by burning it are responsible for heart disease, lung disease and brain dysfunction, among many other things. Presumably, most of the people associated with the AAM and EPA, including Pruitt himself, have lungs, and perhaps even brains and hearts (though evidence seems to be lacking for the latter two), and actually live in the environment they seem determined to do everything they can to destroy.
Lobbying efforts by polluters, like this one, are a reason why government officials often “look the other way” while they pollute the world in which all of us, environmentalists and otherwise, live. And because of governments looking the other way, dirty energy benefits from an estimated $5.3 trillion global subsidy, in terms of the damage pollution does to all of us and to the world economy. If the new administration is looking for ways to end energy subsidies, then making polluters clean up after themselves would be a good place to start.