President BidenJoe BidenUnited and Delta cancel more than 200 flights on Christmas Eve amid omicron surge Task force reunites 100 children with separated families under Trump Suspect accused of hijacking Democratic congresswoman in Philadelphia MORE was right when he said that global warming is an existential threat. That’s why it’s so disappointing that his administration has crafted self-pollution rules that are a speed bump on the road to the climate precipice, just when we need a U-turn.
New auto rules that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized on Monday have wrapped anemic pollution cuts with garlands and bows for the auto industry in the form of loopholes and giveaways.
The administration touted the rules as the most ambitious mileage goals of all time. Yet they only slightly improve the standards that automakers agreed to nine years ago with president obamaBarack Hussein Obama Biden Appoints Powerful DC Circuit South Carolina Judge Acclaimed Writer Joan Didion Passes Away at 87 History Shows Only New Voting Rights Law Can Preserve Our Fragile Democracy MORE, while global warming was much less severe. These rules were overturned by President Trump at the behest of the automakers.
Among the loopholes, the new rules allow automakers to make more gas-guzzling cars, vans and SUVs if they include technologies like solar panels on car roofs that don’t significantly reduce emissions.
Climate advocates are always looking for the good news. Even with power plant emission cuts stalled as Biden’s climate provisions in the Build Back Better bill languish in the Senate and the weak auto pollution rule in the near term, the president still has a chance to dramatically reduce pollution. largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Biden’s EPA is set to begin drafting the agency’s next phase of standards for model year 2027 and beyond, which will be enacted during the president’s current term.
These long-term rules must dramatically speed up the transition to a zero-emissions era with enforceable rules that require automakers to build electric vehicles rather than just making promises to make someday.
With aggressive action on cars and trucks, Biden can avoid both climatic and political peril.
The voters who helped elect Biden – and whom he will need to be re-elected – are among the most affected and concerned about the climate.
Heading into the 2020 election, a survey by Yale and George Mason Universities found that 57% of registered black and Latino voters said global warming would be “very important” to their vote. “Climate change disproportionately affects members of disadvantaged communities and groups facing socio-economic inequalities, including many people of color,” the study says.
Based on calculations by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a joint study by Columbia University and the Center for Public Integrity found that in US counties where blacks made up at least a quarter of the population, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit averages 18 days a year, compared to about seven days a year in the rest of the country.
In a low-income community in central Phoenix, the incidence of heat-related illnesses since 2010 has increased seven times faster than in the rest of the city, according to the Columbia report.
Arizona was a 2020 battleground that the Democratic presidential candidate won for the first time since 1996. The 4-to-1 advantage Biden achieved in one of Phoenix’s poorer districts has him allowed to beat Trump in the state by about 10,500 votes, or 0.3% of the total vote – a margin of victory slower than in any state other than Georgia.
Polls show young people care deeply about the climate. Among Millennials and Youth, another critically important constituency, 88% told Pew Research Center polls last year that the government was doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. Their voting participation increased significantly in 2020.
Together, these groups backed Biden with substantial margins: 92% of non-Latino black voters, 59% of Latino voters, and 59% of voters aged 18 to 29 voted for him.
The president can deliver for them. By adopting a tough rule reducing auto pollution, Biden could take the biggest step a country has taken to protect the planet and address the priority climate concerns of these vital voters.
The President owes them, and the world is at stake.
Dan Becker is the Safe Climate Transport Campaign Director at the Center for Biological Diversity.