Trump rollback of Obama MPG standards saves consumers millions . . . and reins in California’s secessionist tendencies

Screengrab via JibJab

By Dan Calabrese

You’re going to say that’s taking it too far, but in what respect is California still part of the United States if it a) ignores federal law; and b) presumes to enact its own regulations with the intention of making them apply to the entire country?

Maybe California’s not so much seceding as attempting a hostile takeover, and Barack Obama seemed quite happy to help them do it.

Donald Trump is not, which is good news on multiple fronts:

The proposal outlined Thursday would eliminate the sharp increase in fuel-economy requirements adopted under the Obama administration in collaboration with California. The fuel-efficiency rules, which were key to former President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, require auto makers to cut emissions enough so that new vehicles sold average more than 50 miles a gallon by 2025.

This latest proposal, which is subject to a 60-day public comment period, would still increase targets through 2020 but then hold them at that level, significantly lowering the longer-term requirements through 2026. The new target would be 37 miles a gallon by 2026.

The plan gives car companies more flexibility at a time when low fuel prices have resulted in soaring sales of bigger, less-efficient pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. Those vehicles now account for more than 60% of the U.S. auto market.

Trump administration officials say that meeting the current standards would require costly, fuel-saving technology that customers would balk at paying, opting instead to keep older, dirtier and less-safe cars.

“Our job is to do what’s right for all Americans,” Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, disputed the Trump administration’s claims, saying greater efficiency saves consumers money and protects their health by lowering air pollution and addressing climate change, “the most important global environmental issue of our time.”

The problem with letting California take the lead on an issue like this is that California has outsized influence because of the size of its market. If automakers can’t sell cars in California without meeting the state’s higher MPG standards, then they’re forced for all intents and purposes to meet California’s standards for all the vehicles they make, even the ones they sell elsewhere. It makes no sense to re-tool your design and production processes only for a handful of the cars you make. If you’re going to build some to pass California muster, you need to make them all to do so.

That means that California essentially gets to dictate to the entire nation what MPG standards have to be. No one state should be able to make that call for the entire country.

But California is not taking this lying down, and plans to fight the new standards in court. Other states who basically just follow California’s lead on establishing MPG standards may join in the suit, which they threaten to take all the way to the Supreme Court.

Can a state set its own MPG standards when doing so essentially turns that state into the regulator for the entire nation? It’s an interesting legal question, and probably one the Founders would have not been able to anticipate when they crafted the Constitution. The Interstate Commerce Clause is basically designed to prevent one state from running roughshod over others concerning commercial transactions, and I would expect the Trump Administration to argue that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government sole authority to impose such regulations for that reason. California will defend itself by pointing out that it’s only attempting to regulate cars sold in California, which is true, but the cars are made all over the place and sold all over the place by carmakers who can’t afford two sets of MPG standards – one for California and one for everyone else.

If one state has become that powerful, something should be done about it. The left make like what California’s doing, but what if Texas one day wields its economic power in a way less to their liking? This seems like a good time to decide who really has the authority to make the rules for the whole country?

Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!