Biden walks away from Trump’s disastrous auto emissions standards

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In today’s hyper-polarized political climate, President Joe Biden’s moderating instincts often come in handy, as evidenced by the infrastructure deal that is finally reached in Congress. A half loaf that is clearly better than nothing. But when it comes to putting out the raging wildfire of climate change, he’s more inclined to paraphrase, of all, Barry Goldwater: Moderation is not a virtue.

So it’s a relief that the Biden administration is coming back and ultimately surpassing the standards the Obama administration set for the auto industry – though not quickly enough for some environmentalists – after the Trump administration recklessly rolled them back. Perhaps more importantly, Biden’s plan would accelerate the move towards electric vehicles.

Automobile emissions are a major driver of man-made global warming, the adverse effects of which surround us today in the form of extreme weather events, melting glaciers and rising sea levels. the sea. Burning fossil fuels like gasoline releases carbon dioxide, which is part of the gases that have built up in the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun, creating the greenhouse effect that has raised global temperatures averages beyond anything seen in history.

The Obama administration has sought to counter the threat in part by requiring American automakers to improve the mileage of their cars year after year (since increased efficiency means less gas mileage). The Obama rule called for a 5% increase in efficiency each year. The automakers, of course, were angered by this requirement – but even they weren’t seeking the polluting permit deal that the Trump administration then proposed.

Former President Donald Trump’s childish obsession with erasing as much of Barack Obama’s legacy as possible was more evident on the issue of climate change than virtually any other. Trump withdrew from the Paris climate deal, rolled back environmental restrictions on drilling and other industries – and slashed the 5% annual improvement in car efficiency imposed by the White House Obama, reducing it to just 1.5%.

This level was so anemic that even the biggest automakers hesitated. Four of them have a side deal with California, whose automotive standards are generally adopted nationwide due to the huge market there. The deal called for an efficiency improvement of 3.7% per year – lower than what Obama was seeking, but well above Trump’s rule. Trump’s unwittingly comical response has been to accuse automakers (whose products are among the biggest polluters on the planet) of being too “politically correct” about climate change.

The standards proposed by Biden would initially start with those set out in the California accord, which irritates some environmentalists. But going forward, the Biden plan quickly meets and then exceeds Obama’s standards. It is a recognition that the auto industry cannot run on a dime. And Biden’s separate call for 50% of all new car sales by 2030 to be electric cars is potentially transformative. This is the right way.

– St. Louis Post-Expedition Editorial Board

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