In 2012, I was honored by the BlueGreen Alliance for my role in establishing the Obama auto fuel efficiency standards. I was the only environmental leader to stand with the then CEO of GM to support the bailout in the spirit of transforming the auto industry. I share this not to take credit for rules that Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is currently dismantling but to remind readers that the Obama auto rules will eliminate our need for foreign oil and the wars that they have spawned over the decades. It will also cut carbon dioxide emissions from autos by 50% by 2025 and it will greatly improve the air quality of every American city. Children will have less asthma.
By manufacturing efficient hybrids and electric cars, America would move to the front of the auto industry worldwide and assure jobs for millions of auto workers. In short, these rules were technology-forcing but achievable. By setting clear and firm goals, innovation happens. By setting goals, the auto industry is less driven by the fluctuations in gasoline prices and the uncertainty of an unstable Middle East. By setting goals, America can be the center of innovation with a growing number of jobs. It is important to note that the auto rules have not caused job losses but actually helped to increase the number of jobs in the industry.
The rest of the world is moving to electric cars and setting mandatory targets. The Trump administration doesn’t get this needed transition but we must.