US Economy

Published on November 11th, 2016 | by Steve Hanley

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Auto Makers Already Sucking Up To Trump On Emissions Rules

November 11th, 2016 by  
 

Well, that didn’t take long. The carcass of the Obama Administration is not even cold yet and already the American car companies have caved completed to the megalomaniac in chief in order to fatten their bottom lines. Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler are more than happy to sacrifice our children and grandchildren on the altar of greed just so long as they can continue making fat profits on the largest,  most wasteful offerings in their lineups. They have already started bleating about how unfair current and proposed EPA emissions standards are.

emissions rules under attack

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — afront for the Big 2.5 — has already fired off a letter to Trump’s White House transition team  proposing that the new administration take a fresh look at the EPA’s proposed fuel economy standards. The companies whine that the rules are too burdensome, too expensive, too complex, and too difficult for the car companies to implement. It wants a pause in fuel economy and greenhouse rules until the new administration can “lead efforts” with regulators and automakers on “a pathway forward” for the final four years of the rules.

The letter says the rules — which become more stringent starting with model year 2017 — are a “substantial challenge” for the industry. Overall, car makers say they support greater efficiency and higher environmental goals; they just need more time. Horse puckey. The industry simply wants to do what is known in regulatory and legislative circles as “slow walking” the transition to higher standards. What difference could it possibly make if the rules went into full force and effect in 2035 or 2050 instead of now?

The industry is already counting the profits it can expect to make by selling more large pickup trucks and SUVs. CNN reports that GM announced the day after the election that it will layoff 2000 workers in early 2017 so it can reconfigure two factories so they can switch to building trucks and SUVs — the two vehicles with the fattest, juiciest profit margins of all. What does the timing of that announcement tell you?

The car companies are sure to get their wish. The Donald has already announced his intention to name Myron Ebell to head the EPA. Ebell is leading climate change denier who says, “Climate change is nothing to worry about.” Republicans in Congress are eager to start dismantling most of the climate protection initiatives put in place by the current administration, regulations they say are strangling business.

Another part of this push by car companies is a plea to the new administration to force California and the other states who follow its emissions regulations to roll back their zero emissions mandates. The theory may be that what California is doing places an impermissible burden on interstate commerce, something forbidded by the commerce clause of the Constitution. Once the Trumpster gets his wish and installs one of his ultraconservative choices on the Supreme Court, that argument might find a warm welcome among the four sitting conservative justices who oppose virtually everything the federal goverment tries to do, like the good Federalist Society stooges they are.

How ironic that the car companies, especially General Motors and Chrysler — both of whom were saved from bankruptcy by Obama — have taken out their long knives to stab Obama in the back at the earliest possible opportunity. The current administration used the promise of public funds to get them both to agree to a tightening of fuel economy and emissions rules. They happily took the government handout but now want to renege on their promises. How quickly these corporate weasels forget.

The car companies will win, no question about that. But this may be a Pyrrhic victory. The rest of the world — especially China — has no intention of relaxing emissions rules. The Big 2.5 can build all the massive polluters they want, just as long as they understand they can only sell them in the US. Be careful what you wish for, Detroit. You just might get it.

Source: Automotive News





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About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.



  • PeteDisqus321

    Steve, is there any chance of extending that wall along all US borders, and putting a lid on to keep the emissions in?

    • Steve Hanley

      Sure. Seems like a great idea!

      • PeteDisqus321

        In all seriousness, brilliant piece, as always. Obama should never have rescued the big three dinosaurs, or indeed the big banks. I’m reminded of that snake poem Trump keeps banging on about.

        What’s fascinating is that, having been dug out of the first one, the CEOs of these companies are determined to dig a second grave for themselves. Oh well, I guess boosting stock price/profitability over the next 3 years before you move on to the next host is all that really matters to those folks.

        • Steve Hanley

          I concur with your assessment. I have tweeted Mary Barra to tell her how disgusted I am with her and her company. Mary hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Probably busy counting her money.

          Capitalism is supposed to be about creative destruction. Tesla is probably the best current example of this. If you can’t compete with them and go out of business, xin loi, as we used to say in old Saigon.

          • Optihuman

            Capitalism is about making money. This whole notion of “disruption” is a fallacy created by a few to mask the ugly side of progress, job displacement. Although coal needs to go away many “innocent” miners and towns are going to be hurt in the process. It’s sad that the country does not have the will to nationalize the coal industry and help these people. Coal miners could easily build wind mills.

          • Steve Hanley

            I have advocated for a carbon fee (it is not a tax. It is a fee for polluting the environment). A portion of the money raised would go for retraining fossil fuel workers so they can transition to working in the renewable energy field.

            Makes so much sense to me I can’t even figure out why it is not being done.

          • Optihuman

            I think its unrealistic to expect a publicly held company to do anything but try to make as much money as possible for their shareholders including moving. That being said the unions, states and cities should be working on this problem. It was very apparent in the 70’s and early 80’s that automation was coming and the unions should have been planning on this for their members and members children. The unions should have also viewed the movements into Mexico as a opportunity to gain membership and provide management jobs to the workers kids. To often we fight the tide thinking we have a chance instead of using it to our advantage.

          • Jim Smith

            All economic systems are ultimately about power. Money = power. Control = power. Religion = power. How would nationalizing the coal industry help?

          • Marcel

            So it is GM… I would have never figured that one out. This is where they fail like the French automakers. Only focus on their domestic markets. Fortunately for them, the US is a much bigger market. Won’t be selling much in a places that are considering to ban ICE.

  • Optihuman

    This will have zero effect on EV sales and may just accelerate them.
    All you need is a few states to require higher standards (states rights) and the auto companies will have to comply. Get CA, NY, IL, MN and NJ on board along with the NE states and they can create their own mini EPA. Trump won but not the popular vote and I bet there are far more R’s who want clean air then their are D’s who don’t care.

    • Steve Hanley

      The Donald will try to crush those non-conforming state laws. CARB itself will be under attack. And the car companies will give him all the help they can.

      • Jim Smith

        i highly doubt that.

        • Steve Hanley

          Well, I think it is far fetched, Jim. But based on early reports about his new head of the EPA and the Energy Department, I’m not willing to say it won’t happen.

          • Optihuman

            If they dissolve the EPA and remove CARB I still think the states will do something and the automakers will still have to build towards foreign markets. It might make sense to trash the US laws and just adopt the European laws. I can see the automakers not wanting all the regs to disappear they just don’t want them to get stricter. I really think it just won’t matter anyways EV’s are coming and nothing is going to stop progress. It’s like fighting over the Arctic drilling, its to expensive so it just isn’t going to happen so let the R’s have their faux win.

  • Jeffmc60450

    How many people do you think are really going to buy new cars at all in the next 4 years? Those companies are going to be filing for bankruptcy before the next presidential election. When they and the big banks ask for a handout tell them, “No, and to all of your investors and shareholders that have lost everything…. Go find a ledge.”

    • Jim Smith

      why wouldn’t anyone buy cars in the next four years?

    • Optihuman

      76 million +- 1.5 million

  • Kieran Delaney

    I was always under the impression that the overwhelming majority of people in the United States, supported greater fuel efficiency, green power production and a reduction in general oil usage…even if only to avoid dependency on foreign oil, to prop up the lul in production from U.S. and Canadian sources…

    I don’t understand why Donald Duck…I mean, Trump (which is an old British slang word for fart…lol), and his anti-green rhetoric are seemingly so popular..

    Or is it the simple fact that Hillary is a two-faced liar that got caught, over the Orange-faced liar who has yet to be caught…?

    (Relatively ignorant Brit onlooker here…)

    • James Rowland

      Trump has been caught, and lies far more often. It just didn’t lose him any votes, because an exasperated right felt it was more important to stick two fingers up at the left. Honestly, I’m not surprised.

      You’re right that people value efficiency and good engineering, though. The worse ICE is, the more compelling EVs will be; let them have more rope to hang themselves with.

    • kevin mccune

      Nothing ignorant about you ,I’m afraid.(scuse my language butchery )I can not believe the “Lemmings ” that fell for that rhetoric ,I used to believe my Countrymen had a certain level of intelligence ,now I am not so sure .
      What next negative interest rates on jacked up truck and SUV prices ?
      California I love you ,you have helped my air be cleaner(after all I am downwind from California ) Now keep up the goodwork and start building clean durable EVs to sell to China for your own sakes(the Asiatic plume envelopes the west coast too) its axiomatic ,no corner of the globe does something ,that does not affect the others

      • Jim Smith

        unfortunately, the horrible trade deal we have with China, makes exporting EVs cost prohibitive. In order to work with China, an American company must be a minority partner with a Chinese company and give the Chinese company all their secrets. Great for the Chinese, horrible for the US Company. Of course, there is no such restriction on Chinese companies setting up shop in the US.

        • Ed

          …and even the simplest man-in-the-street seems to understand that we do not do good trade deals. Enter Donald Trump, promising to fix that. Duh.

          • Optihuman

            Well the simpleton on the streets usually doesn’t factor in things like the US dollar being the reserve currency and how freaking important that is or deals that include us being able to have military bases all over the world. But yeah the simple guy says simple stuff that really isn’t accurate. What I hear from Trump supporters is they want the US to be run like China and have all of the freedoms of the Constitution and have the biggest military and the lowest taxes and etc… Trump voters are simply delusional and he isn’t going to do 1% of the crap he promised. Guys like Jim are either paid to promote or are just dumb. Sorry Jim just calling it like it is, you know, no more PC BS.

        • Kieran Delaney

          Yeah there is an incredible amount of trade protectionism coming from the Chinese government. That is why Tesla is going to continue to struggle, intensely, until they give up the ghost and create a joint-venture in China.

          There simply isn’t another way for them to increase sales, unless they can get around that insane import tax.

    • Jim Smith

      Of course everyone in the US supports greater fuel efficiency, and green power production. The problem is cost. The price of being green is still much higher than the cost of not being so green.

      • Ed

        Just tax vehicle fuels until the planet gets the results needed for true sustainability. Price works every time. If our gasoline was $5-6 per gallon like elsewhere in the world, we would see far fewer solo 100 pound women driving 6,000 pound Suburbans. Not picking on the gals, but just look around as you drive to see how common this is.

        • Jim Smith

          If we want to assign a generic tax on pollution, it only makes sense to put it on imports from countries who do not match our standards, or even better yet, our pollution. We have agreed on standards of air pollution measure. Simply average our top 10 city/metro areas and measure other countries against that. As our air becomes cleaner, we drag other countries along or they face steep tariffs on all their goods and services coming into our country.

          This helps industry in the US and it ultimately helps the planet. Win-Win.

          • Steve Hanley

            Interesting idea, Jim. Have not heard that before. Doesn’t address cleaning up our own skies, but it’s a beginning. I like it!

          • Jim Smith

            From where i sit, the problem the Anti-EPA people really have is that it burdens US industry which has to compete with China and other countries who can freely pollute.

            Rather than setting some completely arbitrary pollution tax on imports, tie it to our air pollution. As we clean our air, others will be forced to follow.

            Why should other countries curb their pollution if we freely pollute and have smog filled cities? Likewise, why must American companies pay for all the pollution controls when companies in other countries can freely pollute?

            There are many facets to trade which need to be redone. Trump talks a lot, but we will have to see what his actions are.

          • Optihuman

            There is a guy named Grover that might have something to say about your tax/tariff and 60 million voters who freak out over the t word. BTW a tax on imported goods is called a tariff and I think the many millions of people who own dealerships and work for import car companies might have something to say about selective tariffs like what you proposing not to mention the home country. Also If you have not noticed most of the imports are actually assembled in the US now which isn’t that much different then the laws for China. I don’t know if having a JV with a local is all that awful accommodation to gain access to 300 million potential customers. Most multi national companies do it that way anyways. Donald J Trump acts like everyone is idiot besides him and guess what its just not the case. One more thing to chew on, since we have been active at helping emerging economies succeed we have not faced any serious global threats, so what is the cost of peace?
            And know ISIS is not a serious threat to any nation state even Iraq. No navy or air force you aren’t shit.

          • Jim Smith

            So Obama is lying about ISIS being a threat?

            Every country on the planet has a complex set of tariffs on imports. I suggest you read up on how trade works before making any more statements about it.

          • Steve Hanley

            Nicely said.

      • Steve Hanley

        Wind and solar power are now equivalent to natural gas and cheaper than coal. And they don’t torture the land the way fracking, tar sand production, and mountain top removal do.

        Texas is pushing ahead with massive wind farms that provide electricity below anything ever seen before.

        The technology is there. All we have to do is commit to using it. But fossil fuels have well funded lobbying campaigns designed to buy compliant politicians like Mitch McConnell and James Inhofe. We need to vote ignorant and venal people out of office, the sooner the better.

        • Jim Smith

          how many new coal plants are being built in the US right now? How many shut down last year? How many are going to be shut down in 2017? Sounds like we are committed to using cheaper alternatives. That is the crux of the problem, cost.

          Natural gas is cheaper than coal, so it is winning. Once batteries get cheaper, renewables will replace gas. Amazing how markets work. All we need to do is get the government subsidies out of _everything_ and the market will bring us more renewables all by itself.

          • Steve Hanley

            I’m for that!

          • Optihuman

            Subsidies are tools and they are neither bad nor good. Just like any tool when you use it correctly you get good results misuse them and you get dependencies.

          • Jim Smith

            taxpayer subsidies are bad. The government should not be picking winners and losers.

          • Kieran Delaney

            “All we need to do…”, unfortunately, is beyond what we are presently capable of. Especially with such prolific use of private funds, to alter the direction of public office.

            The Koch Brothers are a blight on the future and betterment of all mankind, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Steve Hanley

      Statistics suggest you are correct. People often vote contrary to their most cherished beliefs. Go figure……

  • Lucius

    I hope Trump bans all vehicle emissions testing. It discriminates against impoverished people who don’t always have the money to fix every little problem with their car. Or at least alter the test so it only tests for actual pollutants… right now they also scan your car’s computer for any little problem. If it’s really about pollution, then only test my tailpipe!

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