Even in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the Trump administration is not taking a break from making policy decisions sure to infuriate liberals and climate change activists.
On Tuesday, the administration announced plans to roll back an Obama-era regulation that set stricter Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for newly-manufactured vehicles in the U.S.
According to The Hill, the previous rule required cars and trucks fleet-wide to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025, a standard that automakers have said is impossible to meet. The new Trump rule would bring the requirement down to 40 miles per gallon by 2026, according to Reuters, which manufacturers have indicated is indeed feasible.
The administration contends that the new lower fuel efficiency standards will serve to reduce prices on new vehicles, make them more affordable for a broader segment of the population, and save an estimated 3,300 lives as more Americans gain the ability to upgrade to safer new cars, The Hill reported.
Trump to roll back CAFE standards
“This rule reflects the Department’s No. 1 priority — safety — by making newer, safer, cleaner vehicles more accessible for Americans who are, on average, driving 12-year-old cars,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said of the shift. “By making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created.”
However, Consumer Reports estimated that the production of lower efficiency cars as a result the rule change will result in additional fuel costs of $300 billion over the life of those vehicles, The Hill reported.
“The last thing [consumers] need is to get stuck spending more on gas,” said David Friedman, vice president for advocacy at Consumer Reports, in reference to the rule change.
Friedman worried that the higher fuel costs would translate to fewer people buying American cars, but the Trump administration predicted that sales will increase by 2.7 million units as a direct result of an estimated $1,400 reduction in average vehicle prices.
Obama fires back
Former President Barack Obama reacted angrily to the rule change, tweeting that the climate change denial he apparently believes drove the Trump administration’s decision was akin to denying the coronavirus pandemic in its early days.
We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall. https://t.co/K8Ucu7iVDK
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 31, 2020
Obama may find it hard to convince many Americans to pay attention to climate change when the entire world is falling apart because of COVID-19. Green energy concerns are unlikely to be on the forefront of most people’s minds in the midst of the current public health crisis.
Climate change as a political movement has really only been a driving consideration in affluent nations that don’t have to worry about widespread poverty and unemployment.
Since the American economy has been brought to a virtual standstill in order to flatten the coronavirus curve, radical environmentalists may find that much of their influence has evaporated.