Gas War: Inspector General to Investigate Fuel Rollback
Following requests from Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) for a formal investigation into whether the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules proposed by the Trump administration violates the Clean Air Act (or some currently undetermined regulatory requirement that might stop it from coming to fruition), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said it will indeed evaluate the emissions rollback.
As the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper’s opposition to the fuel rollback is to be expected. With politicians unwilling to find common ground and engage in good-faith discussions that might result in some amount of compromise in service to the people, opposition tactics have devolved into partisan lawsuits and trying to halt the new rules over technicalities.
Funnily enough, SAFE was already compromised once already to include more stringent regulatory measures designed to appease environmentalists. That move didn’t prove very successful, highlighting the fractured nature of modern politics.
Leadership in some states continue to demand retention of the Obama-era rules (despite that administration’s own EPA saying they would be unmanageable). More than a few have gone so far as to suggest they’ll abide by stricter Californian regulations, regardless of what happens with the rollback — the political equivalent of covering your ears and saying “I can’t year you, la la la la.”
But the Trump administration isn’t going into this without a few blemishes of its own. Some have refuted claims that the rollback would encourage cheaper automobiles by discouraging the industry from pushing electric vehicles, citing the administration’s own cost-of-ownership analysis and taking a broader scope of view. Still, that presumes heaps of people default into buying EVs — which probably won’t happen until the cars become cheaper to buy, as well as superior (or at least equal) to gas-powered autos in all respects. We already harped on this when assessing Joe Biden’s surprise endorsement of Cash for Clunkers 2.o.
Then there’s the EPA, which has been blasted in the media after staffers claimed the science behind some of the rollback decisions were junk. This outlet certainly found some of the rationale behind the current administration’s claim that staying with the higher efficiency standard would result in less-safe automobiles to be mildly suspect. But any valid concerns have been undermined by political infighting within the organization itself and news outlets writing articles calling the fossil fuel industry mass murderers. Like nearly every issue raised since 2016, the rollback has been politicized to a point where it’s nearing self-parody.
Meanwhile, nobody seems capable of determining how much trash was actually shoveled around in service of those politics at the EPA. Assuming the Inspector General can set any biases aside to determine what aspects of the proposal are legitimate and clear up any concerns about bunk data, we’re eager to see the watchdog enter into the fray.
[Image: Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock]
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What rollback? Not moving forward is not the same as rolling back.