Top Stories of 2019: Car Wars and Federalism

News about electric vehicles — both cars and trucks — and particularly the efforts of California and other states to elevate their standards on tailpipe emissions to both reduce carbon and toxic air emissions made headlines throughout the year in Our Daily Planet.  From the Green New Deal and all the 2020 Democratic candidates’ big ambitions to make all new vehicles electric by the end of the next decade, to the growth of the market and its expansion into trucks thanks to Elon Musk, to the state of California and Ford splitting with the Trump Administration and GM/Chrysler, cars were big news in 2019.  Unfortunately, some car companies seemed to be going in reverse — like GM and its new monster trucks, and the overall rise of less fuel-efficient SUVs versus sedans.

Why This Matters: The future of cars/trucks and new jobs in the auto industry is electric — if only we can get out of our own way to speed them to the finish line.  But this story will have ripple effects beyond even autos.  The fact that the states are now leading the charge on electric vehicles turns on its head the traditional notion of state governments lowering standards because they are captive to industry and thus there is a need for a uniform federal rule or law to ensure strong environmental standards everywhere.  The auto companies siding with the Trump Administration are using federalism as a way to try to LOWER the standards everywhere and hold the progress ive states back.  Yes, the Clean Air Act carved out California and gave them the right to set a tougher standard due to their persistent air pollution from cars.  But this fight over the rights of states to set tougher standards — for water pollution and the clean up of toxic waste sites is playing itself out across the nation and even in the Supreme Court.  This could fundamentally alter our system of strong federal environmental laws “trumping” the states’ environmental laws.  The bottom line is that cleaning our air has never been more important — research shows that air pollution causes more than 100,000 premature deaths a year.  

Up Next

Fossil Fuels Cost the US Economy Billions According to Greenpeace Report

Fossil Fuels Cost the US Economy Billions According to Greenpeace Report

According to a new report from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, air pollution that’s generated by burning fossil fuels is responsible for approximately 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide every year. The report underscored that, Air pollution increases the incidence of chronic and acute illnesses and contributes to […]

Continue Reading 454 words
New Report Finds One-Third of Americans Breathe Dirty Air At Least 3 Months A Year

New Report Finds One-Third of Americans Breathe Dirty Air At Least 3 Months A Year

In 2018, nearly 110 million Americans lived in areas with air quality that was unhealthy for more than 100 days of the year, according to a new report published on Tuesday by Environment America Research & Policy Center, USPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group.

Why This Matters:  Dirty air negatively impacts’ people’s health and even their life expectancy — as we have often reported here in Our Daily Planet, and air quality in the U.S. is not good enough, despite what the current administration may try to claim.

Continue Reading 490 words
PTI – In 2020, Let’s Talk More About Air Pollution

PTI – In 2020, Let’s Talk More About Air Pollution

By Miro Korenha and Monica Medina Pardon the interruption from the constant conversation about the stock market, impeachment and conflict in the Middle East.  We’d like to talk about something completely different.  2020 is the 50th anniversary of the passage of one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws — the Clean Air Act.  This week […]

Continue Reading 888 words