Under Cover of Pandemic: Rollbacks of Environmental Regulations

Author: Sue C. | Category: Environment & Nature | Date: 04-18-2020

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Under cover of the pandemic, the Trump administration has been working hard and fast to roll back Obama era auto emissions standards. Both carbon emissions and the amount consumers spend on gas would increase astronomically, not to speak of the deleterious effect on people’s health. 

In one fell swoop, the Trump administration is seeking to demolish the Obama administration’s most significant effort to combat climate change—a 2012 regulatory move that mandated significantly higher miles per gallon standards.

The new proposed Trump rule would roll back the 2012 rule that requires automakers to manufacture more fuel-efficient cars with a 54 miles per gallon standard by 2025.  The new Trump emissions standard would lower that to just 40 miles per gallon, a difference that would result in close to a billion more tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and an additional 80 billion more gallons of gasoline consumed (more).

As for the impact of car exhaust on health, there is more and more evidence pointing to the harmful effects of the particulate matter emitted by vehicle exhaust--the prime component of air pollution--on human health.

Two 2013 studies published by Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, concluded that even short-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure, and long-term exposure to particulate matter (2.5 ppm and 10 ppm) commonly-found in polluted air carries an 18% to 22% increased risk of lung cancer (more).

One interesting fact is that although Trump claims this rollback would lower costs for automakers, most in the auto industry who stand to benefit financially are actually opposed to this rule change, if only because it would precipitate lawsuits (20 states are expected to sue), which would leave them in legal limbo for a long time.  

As if this major move to speed up climate change and degrade the environment was not enough, Trump’s Department of the Interior has recently unveiled a major new regulation that would end most protections for migratory birds.  The reason proffered by Trump’s lawyers is that these protections are too constraining for industries—specifically the oil and gas industry--that have had to pay fines for accidentally killing birds (more)

This double whammy is a huge blow to our environment and the right of wildlife to exist. This means that the upcoming general election will determine whether environmental degradation and the decimation of wildlife will continue apace and even pick up steam.

Finally, we should stop to connect the dots:  Who will environmental rollbacks benefit?  It seems clear that the fossil fuel industry would stand to benefit from being able to sell a lot more gas and not having to worry about paying financial penalities for killing wildlife. 

 

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