Nothing like starting the week out with good news. Donald Trump decided when he ran for office that the substance of his administration would be to reverse engineer each and every thing that Barack Obama had ever achieved — irregardless of whether to do so was counter productive or not. Trump’s clean energy rollback is probably the most harmful backwards move that Trump has made, all things considered. But guess what? People aren’t going along with it. The auto industry is following California’s lead towards the future of energy-efficient automobiles, federal regulations or not. Salon:
The latest blow to the Trump clean energy rollback was an announcement by California and four major automakers — including Volkswagen, the world’s largest — that even if the president can persuade the courts to allow him to roll back the Obama administration’s improved regulations on pollution and efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, these companies would guarantee that their U.S. fleets meet a set of slightly modified standards devised by California for the model years 2022-25.
While Ford was the only U.S. automaker to sign, it’s still a huge step. (And Ford is hardly a bit player.) General Motors appears to be seeking more credit for its significant investment in electrification, and Fiat Chrysler, having turned itself into a niche brand that proudly produced the world’s best 20th-century cars — Jeep SUVs and Ram Trucks — simply whined. (Chrysler still doesn’t know how it will comply with the much laxer 2020-21 rules.) Toyota may be watching to see what GM does.
The agreement made clear that the Trump administration’s refusal to negotiate with California was rooted in its own stubbornness, not California’s unwillingness to make a reasonable offer. It further made clear that the auto industry feels deeply threatened both by the prospect of a US auto market split into two segments — one following strong California innovation rules, the other locked into yesterday’s auto technology. It also highlighted the degree to which clear mandates in other markets — particularly Europe and China — are maintaining the pace of progress toward clean, electric vehicles, and a recognition that U.S. automakers must keep up regardless of whether federal standards require that.
In other words, the car companies are moving forward sanely and productively, irregardless of whether Trump wants to stay locked in the past, with old energy technologies. Speaking of which, Trump’s lies to the coal miners about “all their jobs coming back” isn’t going to hold up for much longer, either.
And what of the other flank of the Trump assault on climate progress: His promise to bring back “beautiful” coal? The last month has seen a slew of announcements making utterly clear that the coal industry is on the way out as a source of electric energy. The Energy Department has conceded that coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation will continue to plummet – from more than 50% a few years ago, to 30% in 2017 and a forecast of only 24% this year. The largest coal power plant to fall thus far — American Electric Power’s behemoth Rockport, Indiana, facility — has announced it will shut down. An all-Republican body of utility regulators in Georgia required Georgia Power not only to shut down much of its coal facilities, but also to embrace renewables, rather than natural gas, as the replacement. One analyst called this “the worst month for coal power in decades.”
The irony here is delicious. The utility regulators in Georgia are all Republicans and yet they still cannot maintain the self-serving fiction that the coal industry and the miners’ jobs are coming back. The miners were manipulated to vote for Trump because people like Franklin Graham were saying that, “there’s no self respect in computer programming. The men want to do the same jobs as their fathers and grandfathers.” Added to that, was the lie that Obama had “shipped the jobs overseas.” No. The jobs have folded, due to attrition, and cleaner forms of energy being developed worldwide. Technology and world markets are not going to stand still because Trump saw fit to lie to a segment of the U.S. work force. The march of progress can be impeded by the venal, and it certainly has been in this case, but it can’t be stopped. It will be amusing in 2020 when Trump tries to worm his way out of this one. Promises made, promises kept? The slogan should be changed to “bullshit slung, bullshit boomerangs.” That’s Donald Trump in a nutshell.