Published on April 4th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley
April 4th, 2018 by Steve Hanley
Adam Lee is chairman of Lee Auto Malls, a business with headquarters in Lewiston, Maine, and founded by his grandfather in 1936. He and his partners manage 19 dealerships in eight cities across the state of Maine. Last August, he penned an op-ed piece for USA Today that pleaded with the EPA and the Trump administration not to roll back the Obama-era fuel economy rules for new cars.
An Auto Dealer Speaks Out
Now that the EPA has decided to do exactly that, Lee has renewed his call to action. Because of my exalted status as a contributor to CleanTechnica, I received a copy of his latest manifesto in my email inbox yesterday. Here it is in its entirety.
As a third generation car dealer, I finally have trucks and SUVs that get reasonable gas mileage. I can sell a full size truck and a variety of SUVs that get just less than 30 miles per gallon, all thanks to our current fuel economy standards. The list of cars and crossovers that finally get between 30-40 mpg is long, and these aren’t even hybrids. As the number one Prius and Leaf dealer in the state of Maine, I am pleased to see that there is finally competition in this category. There was a long spell through the 1980’s and early 2000’s when the average fuel economy of cars and trucks did not change.
With stronger fuel economy standards, the automakers were jerked out of their efficiency complacency. Now almost everything on the road gets much, much better mileage. Just look at the Chevy Bolt, which goes 200 miles on a charge, and the Ram Eco Diesel, which gets almost 30 mpg.
Can you imagine that in this day and age of space shuttles, drones, iPhones and refrigerators that can order their own food, we are really thinking of going backwards on advancing efficiency technologies for vehicles? Do you think Honda, Nissan and Toyota are planning to make cars that are less efficient? When did America start to believe that losing our competitive edge was a good thing?
Our 82-year-old company survived the Great Recession, but it was a terrible. Lots of other car dealers did not survive. Chrysler and General Motors went broke. We cannot afford to sit by while the manufacturers and the government work to reverse money-saving fuel economy standards. When gas prices spike again, these standards will be our savior.
The President keeps saying that these regulations are crushing the auto industry. Here is my question for the President and the Environmental Protection Agency: the last four years have been the best in the history of the U.S. auto industry. They have also been the most profitable for car dealers, ever. Why are we going to change the very regulations that are giving us these great cars, trucks and SUVs?”
United States Climate Exchange Weighs In
Adam Lee makes an excellent point. In his mania for making America great again, Trump is unwittingly making America the laughingstock of the world and sentencing it to become a minor player on the world stage as other nations forge into the lead on low and zero emissions car sales. In a statement dated April 2, the United States Climate Alliance says,
“Today’s announcement by EPA Administrator Pruitt to weaken vehicle emissions standards is in direct conflict with the agency’s mandate to reduce air pollution. This decision will increase air pollution and limit innovative technology advancements that bring cleaner, more efficient cars to market.
“We support the current federal standards agreed to in 2012 by the automotive industry, the federal government, and the State of California. These standards are helping to drive the global transition to more efficient transportation technologies. They also protect the health of our communities and reduce the pollution that is changing our climate.
“States are incubators for innovation that strengthens and advances the American economy – by enhancing competitiveness and creating American jobs. We reject this attempt to weaken emissions standards while the rest of the world moves forward. We call on non-Alliance states, car makers, the health community, and others to work with us to uphold the economic, environmental and public health benefits of cleaner cars.”
The US Climate Alliance was formed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and California Governor Jerry Brown in response to Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Member states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Another organization, Climate Mayors, also released a statement after the EPA announcement.
A Statement By Climate Mayors
“As mayors representing 69 million Americans, across 47 states (and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), with millions of vehicles on our roads, we strongly support the current federal standards on vehicle fuel efficiency and oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back this important policy. Today’s announcement leaves the health of American families hanging in the balance while creating uncertainty in the automotive market. The standards adopted by the US EPA in 2011 are saving American drivers money at the gas pump, keeping the country competitive in a sector trending toward zero emissions innovation, and cleaning up the air we all breathe.
“As mayors, we are bound by our common commitment to lead in the fight against climate change. Last year 30 Climate Mayors released a joint Electric Vehicle Request for Information (EV RFI) proving to car companies that if they build zero emissions vehicles, we will buy them. These first 30 cities put forward a combined 114,000 vehicles representing $10 billion in industry value. We want these vehicles because they save us money, offer new technologies and services, and protect local communities from harmful air pollution.
“We will continue our efforts to hasten the transition to more efficient and zero emissions vehicles. We had long viewed the federal government as a partner on clean cars, but we won’t let it take us backwards.”
Know-Nothings On Parade
None of this matters, of course, to Scott Pruitt, Trump’s hand-picked designee to neuter the EPA. Modern day
conservatives reactionaries would probably be shocked to learn the EPA itself was created by a Republican president. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act also became law with a Republican in the White House. There was a time when being a Republican did not mean enabling polluters, looters, and shooters.
That so many Trump supporters approve of dismantling decades of environmental progress suggests they are perfectly fine with poisoning their families and neighbors if it means “their guy” is in the White House. They are happy to destroy America to save it. That’s a curious form of patriotism, is it not?