Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will reopen a review of the current auto emissions directives passed in the final throes of the Obama presidency. This is cause for celebration for automakers, who’ve practically begged the president to repeal the mandates on grounds that the goals are far too uncompromising and ill-suited for the present-day market.
Speaking at the American Center for Mobility, President Trump promised to bring more manufacturing back into the United States and continue to bring down regulatory barriers so that automakers can continue to thrive.
“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.”
Clearly, the president has either never seen an Aston Martin or is trying to make a point about the importance of domestic product.
Prior to the speech, Trump toured the $80 million autonomous vehicle testing ground in Ypsilanti, Michigan, while meeting privately with executives from major auto companies, Governor Rick Snyder, and UAW President Dennis Williams. While Williams said he appreciates Trump being there, he also expressed his concern over weakened environmental standards for the automobile industry — echoing similar objections from consumer advocacy groups and environmentalists.
Immediately after Trump’s speech, the EPA released a statement confirming its intention to revisit the greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025.
“These standards are costly for automakers and the American people,” said newly minted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.”
Some have suggested it may not be good for the environment, however. Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “The Administration should reconsider today’s action. The EPA finalized the standards after a thorough study of costs and benefits. A decision to withdraw the standards is nonsensical, as it would merely funnel more money to oil companies at consumers’ expense and halt the progress that can be made in both savings for consumers and vehicle efficiency. The standards already take the cost into account, and the record shows that they are a reasonable, cost-effective approach to improving fuel efficiency and lowering consumers’ expenses.”
Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) also tweeted Wednesday that allowing automakers slack on emissions and economy could easily result in consumers paying more at the pump. There is also no real assurance that less stringent environmental regulations would create new jobs or sell more cars.
Trump said those issues would need to be addressed, specifically stating current standards are set too far into the future to know what impact it would have on employment until more research is done. Granted, his administration already seems to support the notion that fewer regulations will be better for the country’s financial resources.
“Today’s decision by the EPA is a win for the American economy,” stated Trump-appointed U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The Department of Transportation will re-open the Mid-Term evaluation process and work with the EPA to complete the review in a transparent, data-driven manner.”