Over the weekend, the White House began paving the way for regulatory reform on a variety of fronts.
For example, proposed regulatory rollbacks will make it easier for people with mental illness to buy a gun, and for shady employers to skirt common-sense workplace safety standards.
Most disappointing to those concerned about environmental protections and climate change are the regulatory reforms being proposed for the automobile industry.
The regulatory backslide on vehicle pollution will ease restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide, which will make life much easier (and cheaper) for the United States auto industry. Indeed, CEOs from the United States’ big-three auto makers said as much to the president in February when they pointed to Obama-era emissions standards as overly burdensome.
It wasn’t that long ago that these same automobile companies were being crushed under the weight of internal mismanagement, global competition, and the Great Recession. Many of these companies were bailed out on President Obama’s watch, and over the hue and cry of many in congress who argued in favor of letting them die on the vine.
Part of the conversation during the bailout was the importance of modernizing, including meeting new sustainability targets, both the business model and the fleets of US-baseda automakers.
That these companies are returning to the White House in 2017 looking to reverse previous agreements as they seek a different—regulatory—kind of federal handout is not normal.
Sure, regulatory rollbacks on greenhouse gas emissions will increase profits for these companies over the short term. But the environmental and social externalities realized today, and the sustainability toll these rollbacks will take in the future, are a steep price to pay over the long haul.
I wrote in November that businesses would step in and help save President Obama’s sustainability agenda. When it comes to these regulatory reforms, the automobile industry is taking a step toward proving me wrong.
It’s Thursday, March 9th, 2017.