Donald Trump could repeal the legislation forcing manufacturers to produce ever-cleaner cars, potentially causing thousands of deaths due to increased air pollution.
Cars and trucks collectively account for a fifth of all US emissions and both Democrats and Republicans alike have worked to reduce that through laws forcing car makers to lower tailpipe emissions. The same thing is going on in Europe.
But the Wall Street Journal quotes John Mashburn, a senior policy advisor to Trump, as saying:
“The Trump administration will complete a comprehensive review of all federal regulations. This includes the fuel economy and emissions standards to make sure they are not harming consumers or American workers.”
Trump will not only have the Oval Office, but also the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of which are under Republican control. That makes it much easier for him to pass the laws he wants.
An article on Jalopnik claims that Americans simply don’t want smaller, more efficient cars because fuel prices are low. It says that the law is harming manufacturers and costing jobs because they’re being forced to make fewer cars that people won’t choose anyway, instead of lines upon lines of cheaply-made gas-guzzling pickups.
In short, it’s the easy option to relax laws and let car makers pump out as much pollution as they want.
And yet 5.5 million people die worldwide as a result of air pollution. Most deaths are in developing countries but the effects of the deadly toxins within exhaust gases are the same everywhere.
Michael Brauer of the University of British Columbia in Canada is quoted by the BBC in an article from February 2016 as saying: “The whole population benefits when air quality improves.
“In the US, we know that for every dollar spent on air pollution improvements, we can get between $4-$30 benefit in terms of reduced health impacts.”
Trump seems to have forgotten that it’s not the 1970s any more. It’s no longer the time when American global manufacturing might went unchallenged. Frankly, I don’t want to go back to the ‘70s: the hairstyles were terrible.
But perhaps dear Donald should reflect on a previous US President before making any rash policy moves. It was John F Kennedy who said in his most famous speech:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
Lowering air pollution is hard, and will continue to be hard, but if we’re going to leave this world in a better state than we found it, then JFK’s way has to be our way. If Trump takes the easy route, more people will inevitably die.