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EDITORIAL: State must fight new emission rules

EDITORIAL: State must fight new emission rules

Trump rollback on vehicle emissions will pollute air, damage health, raise costs, hurt economy

Politicians, like magicians and hucksters, often will try to draw your attention to one thing that’s happening so you won’t notice what’s happening somewhere else.

One of the great misdirections of our time is going on right now with the coronavirus crisis. 

And the Trump Administration is taking full advantage of it.

In case you were consumed by concerns about your health or your job or your kids being home from school or the rising toll of sickness and death around the country, you might not have noticed a directive by Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency that ignores climate science to  help the auto and oil industries at the expense of our collective health.

Ironically, like the coronavirus, this action takes direct aim at our respiratory systems.

Under a final rule issued Tuesday, the administration rolled back Obama-era efforts that attempted to increase auto gas mileage standards, create more fuel-efficient gas and diesel vehicles, and encourage the development of electric vehicles to stem the amount of pollution released into the air from motor vehicles.

The new rule, according to CNN Politics, calls for fuel economy and emission standards to increase by 1.5% annually, rather than the 5% increases issued in the 2012 Obama-era rule. The new standards will increase to 40.4 miles per gallon by vehicle model year 2026, about 6 miles per gallon fewer than the 2012 rule.

That’s all bad news for our health and our pocketbooks.

According to a New York Times report, the new rule would allow for nearly 1 billion more tons of carbon dioxide to be released into the environment and prompt consumers to consume 80 billion more gallons of gasoline.

The benefits to car makers, car buyers and the economy of the new rules are expected to be negligible.

Any cost savings for consumers on the price of a vehicle will be offset by having to spend more on gasoline. Any potential savings to car makers will be offset by litigation brought by states and environmental organizations.

Any improvement to Americans’ health due to a decline in auto accidents (as a result of consumers trading in their old cars for newer, safer vehicles) will be offset by more Americans suffering from respiratory ailments.

The more money spent on fuel, estimated at between $13 billion and $22 billion, along with the higher healthcare costs, will hurt the economy rather than help it.

The new rules are expected to take effect later this spring.

States can’t allow that to happen.

Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, reacted strongly to the news on Tuesday, calling the rollback “unforgivable” and saying it “threatens our future.

He vowed that “New York will fight this.”

We’ve warned in the past that as we all try to cope with the coronavirus crisis, we mustn’t lose sight of other government actions that affect our lives.

This is a big one that will last well into the future if our public officials don’t move aggressively and swiftly to stop it.

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