Trump’s Tweet about Yanking California’s Waiver is, Shockingly, Full of Falsehoods

The rollback will not make drivers safer and will not save consumers money

President Trump just sent out a series of tweets announcing and defending his decision to revoke California’s permission to issue its own tough standards to reduce carbon pollution and require manufacturers to sell Zero Emission Vehicles in the state.  Julia has a great analysis of why the decision is terrible policy and bad law that you can read here.

Here are Trump’s tweets:

Shockingly, Trump’s claims that cars will be cheaper and safer are false.  It’s first worth pointing out that today’s move is to revoke California’s waiver while the old Obama era standards still remain in place. That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration have yet to actually release a final rule that would roll back those standards.  They haven’t released a final rule because the administrative record the agencies created to support rolling back the standards to cut carbon pollution from the tailpipes of cars and SUVs is a mess.  But assuming that the Administration finally releases its rule to freeze the national standards at 2020 levels rather than cutting carbon pollution for each year through 2025, it’s simply untrue that the rollback would improve safety and save consumers money.
Let’s start with safety.  The agencies claimed when they first proposed to cut the standards that the new rules would save  12,700 lives and prevent significantly more injuries because more consumers would buy new cars. Those cars, supposedly, would be cheaper and safer.  But the agency provided no justification for those numbers.  In fact, an EPA memo — included in the very same record — warned that the Trump rule would  cause 17 more deaths a year than the Obama standards.   Even more bizarrely, the math and economic assumptions on which the safety claim is made are completely wrong, as USC economist Antonio Bento showed in this comment.  The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer has a terrific explanation of all this bad math here.
But what about cost?  Wouldn’t tougher auto standards that cut carbon pollution cost consumers money? The simple answer is NO. The tougher standards save consumers money and rolling them back would hit consumers hard.  That’s because the more stringent standards save the average consumer more than $3000 over the life of a car in fuel savings even accounting for slightly higher up front car costs. Overall, consumers would pay $460 billion more in fuel prices from the rollback.  And according to Consumer Reports, because most consumers finance their vehicles, they feel the savings in their wallets almost immediately.  Trump’s rollback would hit truck and SUV owners especially hard because the vehicles are less fuel efficient.
In short, Trump’s announcement today to yank California’s waiver will not make drivers safer and will cost them money. Sad!

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Trump’s Tweet about Yanking California’s Waiver is, Shockingly, Full of Falsehoods”

  1. “Overall, consumers would pay $460 billion more in fuel prices from the rollback.”
    Thanks for that stat. Sounds like a great return on investment for the oil/fuel co people propping up DT and the R party.

  2. We recently bought a PHEV. Even in hybrid only mode it averages well above 40 MPG, often above 50. It replaced a car that did low to mid 20’s in average service. In the 10 year / 100,000 mile warrantee period it will save 2,500 – 3,000 gallons of gas even if we never plug it in (and we can plug it in for free at Whole Foods). This is a significant lifecycle savings over the manufacturer’s equivalent gas only model, even though the PHEV was more expensive.

  3. You are basing this on the fact that all your data is right and all your sources are right. Oh, and the government is always right. Oh, and these academics are always right. Oh, and the press is always right. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t.

    End of day, I am going to buy what car I want and don’t really care about any of this. I value liberty most of all so if this gives me more freedom, kudos to whom ever made it happen.

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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