Can Trump Kill Electric Vehicles?

TESLArefreshfrontYesterday I asked if Trump could stop the clean technology momentum.  Part of that discussion relates to electric vehicles, and Rani Molla and Liam Denning in Bloomberg make the optimistic case that Trump can’t stop the transition to EVs:

Even if U.S. federal regulations loosen, the country accounts for only a fifth of global vehicle sales. And other regions, especially in fast-growing Asian markets such as China and India, have reasons of their own to demand more efficient vehicles, ranging from heavily polluted cities to national security (why embrace ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil?). Don’t forget, also, that roughly one of every eight new U.S. vehicle registrations is in California, which is allowed under the Clean Air Act to set more stringent fuel-efficiency targets than the feds.

But maybe we shouldn’t be so optimistic that Congress won’t interfere with California’s emissions policies. As E&E News reports [paywall]:

Then there’s the issue of the state’s Clean Air Act waiver. California has an EPA-granted waiver under the federal Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its own rules for vehicle emissions. Eleven other states follow that policy. Many automakers comply with California’s rule, rather than build cars for just a few states.

Each time it’s renewed, EPA gets to take another look, said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.

“I actually worry that they’re going to go into the Clean Air Act and take out the aspect of it that has allowed California to act independently on tailpipe emissions,” Phillips said. “That’s the place where we’ve had some of the greatest impact on air pollution, not just in this state but around the world, because California has the ability to call for tighter emissions controls from auto manufacturers.”

As with the future of renewables, we’re in a wait-and-see mode. And it’s true that global commitment to electric vehicles is only getting stronger. But at this point, at least here in the United States, no environmental policy is secure.


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