Editorial: Trump Abuses Antitrust Laws to Attack Responsible Environmental Stewardship

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 11, 2019 | Go to article overview

Editorial: Trump Abuses Antitrust Laws to Attack Responsible Environmental Stewardship


In what may qualify as the strangest development in the history of federal regulation, the Trump administration last week launched a probe against four automobile makers, alleging that in striking an agreement with California to meet tougher state emissions standards than the federal government wants, they may be violating antitrust laws.

That's right: The U.S. government is going after an industry for being too environmentally responsible.

The backstory should sound familiar: Former President Barack Obama pushed for tougher auto emissions standards. So of course President Donald Trump felt compelled to demonstrate just how destructive he could be toward Obama's legacy and, more relevantly, toward the environment. As always on environmental issues, Trump's approach is less policy than vandalism.

Obama pushed for cars to reach an average efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 to cut emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Trump's administration, hostile as always to responsible attempts to alleviate climate change while it kowtows to business, is dialing back that goal to 37 miles per gallon, essentially inviting automakers to pollute more.

But Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW, cognizant of growing national concern over global warming -- and, perhaps, the shifting sand that is Trump's policy-making -- declined his gift. Instead, they cut a deal with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to meet standards slightly lower than what Obama sought, but well above what Trump offers. (Due to the size of California's automobile-sales market, its state standards effectively offset national ones. …

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