Friday, March 30, 2018

moi, je dis non

LA Times:

EPA poised to scrap fuel economy targets that are key to curbing global warming — setting up clash with California

The Trump administration is poised to abandon America's pioneering fuel economy targets for cars and SUVs, a move that would undermine one of the world's most aggressive programs to confront climate change and invite another major confrontation with California.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce in the coming days that it will scrap mileage targets the Obama administration drafted in tandem with California that aim to boost average fuel economy for passenger cars and SUVs to 55 miles per gallon by 2025, according to people familiar with the plans.

The agency plans to replace those targets with a weaker standard that will be unveiled soon, according to the people, who did not want to be identified discussing the plan before it was announced.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said a draft determination was undergoing interagency review and a final decision would be made by Sunday.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt has previously suggested that he thinks the targets are too onerous for manufacturers and inhibit them from selling the vehicles most popular with Americans. A climate skeptic, Pruitt has questioned mainstream science on the warming caused by greenhouse gases such as auto emissions.

Whether Pruitt can weaken the rules for the entire country is an open question. California, with its history of smog problems and heightened vulnerability to climate change, has unique authority under the Clean Air Act to impose its own standard. The act also permits other states to adopt the California rules, and a dozen have.

Over the last decade, the federal government has worked with California to keep mileage targets uniform nationwide, folding the state's aggressive smog and anti-pollution goals into the national program. A single standard is crucial to automakers who don't want to contend with multiple production lines to comply with conflicting rules in states, particularly one as important to car sales as California.

It seems to me that car manufacturers can simply continue to make their cars according to current emissions standards. But personally, I'm against the removal of such standards for vehicles manufactured on American soil, as well as vehicles imported into the country. I may not come off as all that "green" to my readers, but I do subscribe to the basic tenet that it's better to live somewhere clean than somewhere dirty. Here in Korea, we've had horrific air quality for the past several days, despite how bright and beautiful the early spring has been. But when you're in a country where the simple of act of breathing now requires procedures like wearing a filter mask, you have to acknowledge that something is seriously wrong. Slacking off on emissions standards isn't going to help that situation at all. I think this is a mistake by the Trump administration.

I need to reread the article more carefully, but on a first read, it doesn't seem to make clear the connection between fuel economy and pollution. The connection appears to be assumed by the author. I'll check again and make an update later, if necessary.


Charles said...

The air quality over the past couple days has actually been an improvement, but it was downright terrifying last weekend. I think in our neighborhood we got up to an AQI in the 170s. Right now it is 117 according to the reading closest to us.

Auckland, however, currently ranges from 1-11. I miss New Zealand.

Kevin Kim said...

Our part of Seoul has had daytime air quality in the 140-150 range. Just a day or so ago, the Lotte World Tower, normally visible down the street, was mostly obscured by massive amounts of dust. The boss passed out masks for us to wear; I haven't started wearing one yet, but I might. Inside our office, the lone air purifier chugs along well into the evening, and we don't open any windows to let in a breeze.

Charles said...

Dude, you definitely have to start wearing the masks, especially when the AQI approaches 150. I never used to wear the masks here, except on those days when we got the yellow dust so bad you couldn't see a hundred meters ahead of you (a relatively rare occurrence), but I've taken to wearing the masks more frequently these days. At first I thought I was just overreacting because I was coming back from the relatively clean US, but things are indeed getting much worse. I saw on the news that even though the "fine dust" (미세먼지; PM10) have been going down over the past few years, the "super fine dust" (초미세먼지; PM2.5) levels are rising at alarming rates.

On Thursday I started off my Korean Language & Culture class (consisting almost entirely of exchange students) with a PSA and discussion on the dust. I had seen some of the guys from the class out playing basketball on Sunday (when the AQI was in the 170s), and I was a little concerned. So I talked about it for around five minutes, and it turns out the students are quite concerned. I thought it was going to be a little throwaway announcement ("Keep an eye on the AQI and wear masks when it gets bad!"), but they had a lot of questions for me.

Do you have an air purifier in your office. HJ and I have been talking about getting one for our place, and I'd like to get one for my office as well.

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, we have an air purifier in the office. Its filter gets completely clogged within a couple weeks. It's insane. (Our machine doubles as a humidifier.)