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Carmakers to Trump: Make America Guzzle Again

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A week before the election, Reuters reported that new cars are more fuel efficient than ever:

The EPA said the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles reached a record 24.8 miles per gallon in the 2015 model year, up 0.5 mpg from 2014, and projected that the 2016 model year fleet fuel efficiency would rise to 25.6 mpg.

You might think carmakers would welcome this news of progress toward cutting the fuel emissions that drive climate change. But two days after the election, the prospects of an Environmental Protection Agency weak on fuel economy cheered them for the opposite reason. According to Bloomberg:

[Stock prices of] Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles NV gained the most in two years and General Motors Co. the most in a year after President-elect Donald Trump selected a prominent critic of global warming to lead his Environmental Protection Agency transition team. Tesla Motors Inc., which is betting big on alternative energy, declined.

Automakers wasted no time seizing the opening, urging the Trump team to consider revising the fuel efficiency mandates enacted by the Obama administration. As Fortune reported:

In an eight-page letter sent Thursday to Trump’s transition team ... the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which presents major automakers ... urged the incoming Trump White House to find “a pathway forward” on setting final fuel efficiency standards through 2025, calling on the next administration to “harmonize and adjust” the rules.

The “pathway forward” carmakers want from the Trump administration would unquestionably mean weaker federal fuel economy standards, which in turn would mean higher driving costs to consumers, health problems like asthma from dirtier air, and more global warming.

Who wants that?

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