While automakers tout green cars, they're fighting the EPA

April 6, 2018

The left hand doesn't always follow the right hand. The trade association that represents most major automakers won its battle to get the EPA to announce it wants to ease emission limits for 2022 through 2025 cars, even as the lobbying group simultaneously works to promote electric cars that don't use a drop of gasoline.

It's hypocritical, but hardly new—except now the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers trade group has thrown in a dash of pseudoscience. It submitted documents containing climate-change denial claims to the EPA as it petitioned the agency to reconsider Obama-era emission rules, which are directly linked to the NHTSA's fuel-economy requirements. The claims made by the Alliance, and their lack of scientific validity, were dissected in an analysis of the lobbying group's petition by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

CHECK OUT: 8 things you should know about EPA plan to let cars emit more (and lower fuel economy)

And yet, just last week, the Auto Alliance announced plans to encourage consumers to buy electric cars in seven Northeastern states.The new effort was launched at the New York auto show.

Automakers GM and Tesla recently lobbied the government to retain and expand an income-tax credit available to electric-car buyers. “We believe in an all-electric future," GM CEO Mary Barra said last month at an energy conference in Houston.

The balancing act for automakers is tricky, especially as gas prices hover around $2.70 per gallon on average nationwide. Consumers haven't entirely abandoned traditionally more fuel-efficient sedans, but the trend toward thirstier crossovers and SUVs shows no signs of slowing down.

“Automakers are really good at saying ‘This is why you should buy my pickup, my SUV, my sedan over somebody else’s,'” Robert Bienenfeld, Honda’s assistant vice president of environment and energy strategy, told Mashable. “What we’re not as good at is saying ‘Here’s a new category and you should consider the new category.'"

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt [photo from 2014]

What concessions or rollbacks EPA chief and climate-change denier Scott Pruitt plans to give automakers remains unknown, but he hasn't been shy about his plans to roll back or even eliminate the Obama-era rules that are set to go into effect for cars in model years 2022 through 2025.

Unfortunately, the coverage of Pruitt's intentions has largely ignored an inconvenient truth: the Obama-era rules he intends to roll back were designed from the outset to accommodate just the kind of shifts in consumer taste that have taken place with the migration from cars to utility vehicles.

That hasn't stopped the auto industry from fighting them, of course: It reflexively fights any and every new regulation, from seat belts in the 1960s to lowering greenhouse-gas emissions today.

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