Candidate Trump had promised the auto industry and his supporters that he would get Detroit working again by deregulating the industry. On the Ides of March 2017, The Donald started to make good on that promise. In an executive order, The Donald directed EPA and the Department of Transportation/National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency to re-open the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) completed just prior to President Obama’s leaving office.
The MTE led to EPA’s finalizing the 2022-2025 CAFE for cars and light trucks at 54.5/mpg**. The Auto Alliance had written both Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt, early in 2017, asking them to reopen what they thought to be a flawed rulemaking process. It was, in their opinion, a rush to judgement and violative of their 2009 agreement with Obama
CAFE standards were introduced to the nation in 1975 as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Motivating the new standards was the 1973 oil embargo. Congress and President Ford sought to lower reliance on foreign oil to decrease the impact of any future embargos. The environment received little more than a nod from lawmakers at the time.
This is part 4 of the Paris Yearning series examining events occurring in the wake of President Trump’s decision to rescind U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Chancellor Merkel Lowers G20 Expectations
Sean Spicer isn’t all that’s hiding in the bushes these days. Spicey is increasingly seen in the company of warning signs facing the world on the road to the sustainable kingdom(s).
The result of the UK election is also leading to an increase in the number of pundits seeking refuge in the greenery. The surprise outcome was not the only current event casting shade over international aspirations for keeping global warming within the bounds of considered safety.
German Chancellor Merkel recently struck a cautious note concerning the outcome of next month’s G20 meeting in Hamburg. A committed climate defender, Ms. Merkel was on a pre-summit tour to discuss the upcoming meeting with the leaders of member nations.
During a news conference in Argentina the German head of state signaled a narrowing of expectations in key areas. Trump’s announced U.S. exit from the climate agreement and his lukewarm embrace of NATO and the G7 cast shadows over continued cooperation on global warming, trade and migration.
The UK election appears to have thrown yet another spanner into the workings of British government. Having suffered the loss of an outright Parliamentary majority in last week’s vote, Prime Minister May is on the prowl for a governing partner.
Live long enough in Capital City and you can’t help but gain a feel for what Alice must have felt as she tumbled down the rabbit hole. Had Lewis Carroll been born a century and a half later and needed a city to use as the inspiration for his Wonderland Washington, in the Trump era, might just have filled the bill.
I can hear Donald J. Trump wistfully wishing:
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is,
because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be.
And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
Yes Donald, I see. I don’t understand, but I see.
As I sat down to write Part 3 of Paris Yearning I had a fairly clear idea of where I would be heading. I made the mistake of checking the evening news stories and, now like Alice, I am a bit disoriented.
Today in Trumpland three events of interest to the clean energy and environmental sectors took place.
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited New Zealand today, where despite torrential rains,
his motorcade was greeted by a flock of birds—not of the fine feathered variety.”
Part 1 of the series looked at the theatre of President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and discussed the growing partisanship of the climate change debate. Readers were cautioned that facts, figures and legal arguments held less import for Trumpeters than they might otherwise hope.
Part 2 focuses on several of the issues most salient to Trump’s announcement and suggests how they might be addressed going forward by clean energy and climate advocates. It begins by pointing to a way around the dilemma of Trumpsters refusing to be swayed by facts.
It would be difficult to get through life without the capacity to consider various options and to decide what to do. The lack of any decision criteria has caused many a donkey caught between two bales of hay to starve to death.
The alternative to weighing facts—at least for a politician--is to weight the importance of an issue to a voter/constituent or to the party’s leadership.
Prioritization is a key alternative decision criteria often employed by elected officials trying to determine whether to support or to oppose a particular initiative. For elected partisan representatives, consideration goes beyond the voters.
As members of an organized and hierarchical party, a balance must be achieved between the demands of party leaders and voters Prioritization works well in both instances.
A lot has been written these last several days about the meaning, motivation and consequence of Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord; much more will be. The decision is unfortunate at many levels--not, however, at all levels.
The near-term notoriety of an issue central to life on earth—whoever you are and wherever you might be living—is a good thing. It and its many subtexts, e.g. environmental justice, federal support of energy and climate research, the reach of federal environmental regulations, etc., are topics needing to be discussed regularly by the global community—not simply after black swan events.
In these few days away from Trump’s decision, I want to address several of the issues I think most salient to Trump’s announcement and to consider how they might be addressed by clean energy and environmental advocates going forward. It is impossible to cover all the issues involved in a single blog column—actually, in a thousand columns. Still, we must start somewhere.
Scratching out notes for this article, it became clear my starting point for a post-pull-out discussion was not going to focus on hard science and statistics—nor even much on legal issues. Laws—whether of Nature or societies—are of course integral to finding workable solutions to global warming.
The disciplines of physics, engineering, materials research, economics, law and others guide us in what to use in our efforts to combat climate change. They do not, however, tell us much about why anyone chooses to combat global warming.
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.