The E.P.A. is Weakening Car Regulations

By Emmalee Eslinger


Every year, drivers in the United States emit 2.4 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it contributes to global warming. Some may ask, what does global warming have to do with me? Global warming causes extreme weather events and natural disasters will become more common and more destructive; there will be costly and growing health impacts, pressure on our water supply and destruction of wildlife habitats, to list a few.

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In 2012, the Obama administration set forth rules that would require automakers to have an average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. An article published in the New York Times states, “If fully implemented, the rules would have cut oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels and reduced carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations, according to [Environmental Protection Agency] projections”. More recently, however, the E.P.A. began to work with the Trump administration on weakening these standards. This could affect worldwide car emission standards as well because it could cause automakers to push for weaker standards in more than just the United States.   

California was the first state to experience major air pollution issues, so it is logical that they were also the first state to set air pollution regulations. Because of this, they are legally allowed stricter laws than the rest of the country. A multi-state coalition led by California recently sued the E.P.A. for violating the Clean Air Act and the E.P.A.’s own regulations. These sixteen states are not going to go down without a fight. Before the coalition sued, the New York Times reported, “A group of automakers has requested a direct meeting with President Trump to urge the administration to avert a legal clash with California, which could plunge the auto industry into regulatory chaos…”.

The E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump.

The E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump.

On the other hand, the Trump administration says Obama’s restrictions would cost car manufacturers too much money. The money that they are not spending on these standards could be used to expand their investments and create jobs, therefore strengthening the economy. The United States has been competing with foreign automakers for some time now, and Trump says we are losing. He says rolling back Obama’s standards could finally help us compete in the global auto market. The public now needs to reflect on whether to prioritize the auto industry or the environment.