Deconstructing CloverSpeak

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The other day, I posted a rant (here) about MSM writers referring to CAFE fuel efficiency regs as being about “emissions” – which is news as fake as it gets. Whatever your stance on Climate Change, CAFE is a fuel economy reg – period.

Well, along comes a Clover.

This one – his name is Eric Kulisch and he apparently writes for The Washington Post – unloaded the following steaming pile, which I copy and paste here for purposes of editorial vivisection:

Automakers are playing a tricky game when it comes to the 2022-25 tailpipe emission standards.

They got their wish for the Trump administration to reopen the EPA’s final determination locking in the final years of the Obama 12-year plan to roughly double vehicle efficiency. And now it looks like Administrator Scott Pruitt will agree that the rules, which ratchet up mileage requirements about 5 percent each year, are too aggressive and need to be corrected.

The draft determination is still under interagency review at the Office of Management and Budget, but must be completed by April 1.

What the fix will look like will not be clear for several more months, until a new proposal is put forward.

Car companies are looking for modest tweaks that give them extra wiggle room to comply with the targets and avoid penalties, while professing loyalty to the clean-air rules. They argue that takes a lot more work and money to squeeze out the last bits of efficiency from vehicles. Improvements are much easier when there is a lot of room to improve — just like it’s easier to get toothpaste out of a tube when it’s full.

The bigger danger is that Pruitt and President Donald Trump will take advantage of the opening provided by the industry and sharply scale back the emissions and fuel efficiency targets.

If the changes are minor, a grand bargain between EPA (the emissions regulator), NHTSA (the mileage regulator) and California (the high priestess of air quality rules under special congressional authority to pave its own direction) is possible. That would be a home run for the auto industry because it would preserve the uniformity and predictability they prize.

But if California doesn’t buy into the Pruitt plan, it will unleash a period of uncertainty as states join California to block a watered-down proposal. That will make product planning more difficult and curtail job-creating investments for the near future. Worse, automakers might have to stop selling many vehicles in a quarter of the states that follow California’s standard or setting up production lines to create two versions of vehicles.

But an even bigger risk remains: damage to the automakers’ reputation as good corporate citizens.

Automakers that got taxpayer-backed bailout loans regained their credibility by turning out better, more fuel-efficient products and voluntarily joining the Obama-led fuel economy program. Executives have extolled their sustainability efforts in an era when consumers make choices based in part on a corporation’s environmental commitments. They were able to attract investment dollars targeted at sustainability and good environmental stewardship.

In the coming days, Pruitt and Trump will likely catch some flak for trying to turn back the clock on environmental progress. But environmental groups and other critics, armed with social media megaphones, are already turning their fire on the carmakers. The companies will face being called hypocrites, willful polluters or worse.

“By undermining the money-saving clean air rules, the auto companies are reaching into our wallets while increasing pollution from cars that will be on the road for years to come,” Stan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, wrote in a blog on Friday. The group and others are planning a Monday sign-waving campaign and protest outside Ford’s Washington offices here.

Carol Browner, the former EPA chief who helped craft the CAFE standards as an Obama White House adviser, said in a statement, “This rollback is just another thinly veiled attempt by Scott Pruitt to protect industry while putting our health and environment at risk.”

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford tried to blunt the public relations hit earlier this week when he expressed support for “increasing clean car standards” and no rollback after his company quietly acquiesced to industry trade association efforts to adjust the standards. This after Ford led the industry to agree to the standards.

But with the environmental groups screaming about the Trump administration caving to automaker demands, the industry won’t be able to control the narrative much longer.

Managing public perceptions about the industry may prove just as complex as managing the operational challenges of an uncertain CAFE program.

And they ask me why I drink . . .

 . . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. What was wrong with those days? People had jobs, money and liberty. Until the mid 60s, there wasn’t such thing as an environmentalist either

  2. “Managing public perceptions…”

    IOW lies and propaganda. The “public” – the stupid and immoral people who believe in the goodness of “authoritah!” – is not worthy of Liberty.

  3. “The companies will face being called hypocrites, willful polluters or worse.”

    So the same plan for cars as they’re using for guns then?

  4. “If people are so inept and evil as to not live their lives as they see fit. Why is it that all the proposals of politicians, bureaucrats and social reformers are considered good? Are they not also members of the human race?” – Frederick Bastiat (paraphrase)

    They will be our undoing.

    • And don’t forget Evan. He provides a good cheaper product via sorta free market. All hail George Washington, “pay us or die”.

  5. This asshole Kullisch is yet another fork-tongued spin doctor paid to convince the public that the EPA and/or NHTSA are legitimate authorities. As long as they keep proclaiming that fuel economy is a “pollution standard”, this shit will never end, and they don’t want it to, either. These bastards just need to crawl back under the rock they came out from, and disappear, and that’s the polite option. Actually they need to have their twisted rhetoric shoved down their throats until they hemorrage blood and die! Then society can work on rebuilding a productive, free-market economy again.

    • gtc, couldn’t agree more. And to think the EPA was simply drug out of Nixon’s ass, like the DEA, both assaults on “dissidents” with highly selective “enforcement”.

      Every time I see Trump or hear about him I can’t help but think we’ve been on the downhill slide of liberty for far too long. Hitlery or Trump, what a frickin choice, both bought and paid for by corporate world govt.

    • Hell yes , lets return to the LA of the 50s and 60s! Right on Brother ,Darwin will rule when the strongest survive breating that crap .

      • Pollution is just one of many unhealthy things that happens when you try to cram too many people into too small an area. Cities will always be a bad thing, regardless of how many pollution laws there are. It just won’t be as visible.

        Even if we assume that “number of people who live in LA” is a fixed quantity or guaranteed to increase continually regardless of what actually happens in LA, why should the rest of us have to suffer for them? Let them do what they need to to solve their own localized problems, and leave the rest of us, living in places where there is not and never has been enough population density to cause an air quality problem, alone.

        All of this assumes that the urban pollution problems of 1970s America were vehicle-related at all rather than industrial. For the latter, it seems to me that the companies which are most likely to kill people wantonly out of shortsighted greed are also the ones which are most likely to use environmental/safety regulations as weapons against their smaller competitors, though it’s true no one was really thinking about air quality before the late 1960s at least.


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