Gas War: Biden Selects 'Obama All Stars' for Transportation Department, EPA
With America currently split between people arguing about how seriously the 2020 election needs to be investigated, there hasn’t been much in the news about cars beyond the omnipresent background hiss of manufacturers promoting green vehicles they have yet to build. That leaves us having to belly crawl through journalistic muck in the hopes of finding a morsel of useful information. Fortunately, we located a crumb worth saving in Joe Biden’s transition teams for the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department.
A Biden administration means bringing back Obama all-stars in a concentrated effort to restore that era’s regulatory standards. That entails flipping just about every single initiative launched by President Trump, including the national fuel rollback that’s at the heart of the Gas War. Biden has also said he would reenter the Paris Climate Accords, gradually abandon fossil fuels, and “establish ambitious fuel economy standards” surpassing anything the nation has seen before.
Biden’s Transportation Department team will be led by Phillip Washington, chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, a former Transportation official under Obama, has also been selected — as has Therese McMillan, former acting head of the Federal Transit Administration under Obama.
For the Interior Department, Biden named former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn to head up the transition, signaling an emphasis on indigenous representation at the agency that oversees federal and tribal lands.
Other Obama-era Interior officials on the team include Elizabeth Klein, former deputy assistant secretary, policy, management & budget, who has been working with an organization representing state attorneys general challenging the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks, and Kate Kelly, a senior adviser to former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
The team also includes Maggie Thomas, previously a climate policy adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
Biden likewise named Sue Biniaz, who helped pen the Paris Agreement, as part of his State Department transition team. This, along with everything else, paints a pretty clear picture of which direction his presidency would be heading. We’re anticipating increasing fuel prices as drilling slows and stringent emissions regulations mimicking what we’ve seen in Europe and China. That could help shape new vehicle models on a long enough timeline, presumably resulting in more small-engine hybrids and fewer hulking V8s. On the upside, the Great American Gas War will finally end — albeit with California winning as the state’s regulatory benchmarks presumably become national ones.
We’re also a little confused about the mechanism for achieving success under the Paris Climate Accord if rejoined. The United States would really only be going back to make others happy, as each country is left to set their own “Nationally Determined Contributions.” The U.S. previously committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 (from the baseline set in 2005). By contrast, China’s commitments have been more ambitions but the goals were set in a way that didn’t require the nation to do anything until after 2030. China’s greenhouse gas emissions are now so huge (over 10.06 billion metric tons per year) they eclipse both the United States and Europe combined. Many also believe the Asian nation will withdraw from the climate agreement before it’s officially obligated to make any meaningful changes.
[Image: Lev Radin/Shutterstock]
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Well, this will last about 2 years (assuming Biden/Harris's election is confirmed, which seems likely) until the 2022 midterms. That is assuming the likely and predicted economic consequences of all of this foolishness comes to pass. In the Senate, there are more Democrats up for re-election in '22; and if the Democrats' octogenarian crew (Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn) continues to run the House, their majority will be wiped out. I say "foolishness" because large amounts of US electricity are generated by burning fossil fuels (although cheaper--and cleaner--natural gas has displaced coal for economic reasons). So, rather than promote a proven workable and effective technology -- hybridization -- gobs of public and private money is being thrown at EVs, even though a large segment of the population can't use them either because or lack of access to overnight charging or because of range issues. As an example, the new Toyota minivan -- a legitimate 6 or 7 passenger vehicle -- is available only as a hybrid and is EPA rated at something over 30 mpg. According to a few reviews I've read, in real world use, it achieves those ratings. But there's big money to be made in "renewables" and selling clean air credits (Tesla), so hybridization has pretty much stalled.
The stupidity here is sad. Trump is not serving a consecutive second term. The country will not be destroyed in the next four years. And nothing significant will change in the automotive world. Fuel prices always vary due to a number of different reasons. ICE vehicles aren't going away anytime soon.