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Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, on Friday announced a $450 billion/10 year “Clean Cars For America Climate Proposal” to accelerate the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century by making clean cars and charging infrastructure accessible and affordable to all Americans. Meanwhile, an appeals court in Washington, D.C. rejected on procedural grounds a challenge to the Trump Administration’s announced decision that it intends to replace the Obama clean car rule because the case is not ripe until the new rule is put in place.
Why This Matters: It is impressive that the Senate Democrats’ proposal on electric vehicles unites auto workers, environmental groups and the auto companies all in support of speeding the development and adoption of cleaner cars. Senator Schumer argued in an op/ed in the New York Times that “[w]e need to act urgently and ambitiously,” and “spur a transformation in American manufacturing” so that “by 2040 all vehicles on the road should be clean.” The three-judge panel (all appointed by Democrats) dismissed the challenge to the clean car rollback on procedural grounds, which means that the legal fate of the rule remains in limbo, leaving the industry and its workers, not to mention everyone who suffers as a result of auto pollution up in the air.
Make clean vehicles affordable by giving consumers a substantial cash voucher to trade-in their gas-powered cars and buy a U.S.-assembled and affordable plug-in electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell car. ($392 billion)
Make charging infrastructure accessible through a new grant program to states and localities to ensure all Americans have access to charging infrastructure. ($45 billion)
Reassert U.S. leadership in clean car manufacturing with robust incentives for manufacturers to build new factories or re-tool existing factories in the United States to assemble zero-emission vehicles or manufacture charging equipment. ($17 billion)
The Court Decision
The court case is something of a setback for the states (California, Maryland, and Massachusets among others) and environmental groups challenging the initial decision by the Trump administration to roll back the Obama Administration’s clean car rule. The court threw out the case because the EPA decision is “not a judicially reviewable final action” by the government because the rollback “neither determines rights or obligations or imposes any legal consequences” — essentially saying that they can review the new clean car standard but not the decision to do away with the old one. The Judges cautioned that “if EPA ultimately changes the 2012 standards, it will need to provide a ‘reasoned explanation’ for why it is ‘disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay or were engendered by the’ 2022–2025 model year standards when they were set in 2012 and the additional record developed during the original mid-term evaluation process.”
Here in Madrid, the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, touted his city as a green Phoenix, rising from the ashes of the failed steel and coal industries, with a growing economy based on high tech and health care companies and improved air and water quality — the city is turning a corner. But he pointed out that just up the road Royal Dutch Shell is building a giant, greenhouse gas-spewing plant near Pittsburgh that will (using a process called “ethane cracking”) make tiny plastic pellets that can be turned into items like phone cases, auto parts, and food packaging according to The New York Times.
Why This Matters: The Pittsburgh plant will be allowed to emit each year 2.25 million tons of carbon dioxide, 522 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and 160 tons of particulate pollution or soot, according to local NGO the Breathe Project.
As the Washington Post reported, “authorities say air pollution in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo has reached dangerous levels in recent days, prompting officials to ban freight vehicles from the roads, cancel all outdoor public events and warn citizens to remain indoors.” The air is virtually unbreathable which has led city officials to reduce coal-fueled […]
On Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk “rolled out” the company’s much-anticipated entry into the electric pickup truck market, and it was eye-catching and unconventional, to say the least. Worse yet, the demonstration of the vehicle’s “unbreakable metal” glass windows did not exactly go as planned, when a metal ball thrown at the windows broke them, not once but twice.
Why This Matters: This truck may be something that tech bros in Silicon Valley would buy. But does it look like the kind of vehicle that will sell well in the heartland?