Washington state should oppose attempts by President Trump to weaken fuel economy standards that have spurred development of more efficient vehicles and created jobs.
WASHINGTON state officials should vociferously oppose any attempts by President Trump to weaken fuel economy standards for automakers.
Trump signaled such intentions last week by announcing a review of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and greenhouse gas emissions standards for the auto industry.
An objective review of regulations is a reasonable move by any new administration. The Trump administration, however, appears to be approaching this from the perspective that fuel-efficiency regulations are harmful job killers.
The administration should consider the actual cost to Americans of these regulations and weigh that against the overall benefits.
By requiring carmakers to increase vehicles’ efficiency, the regulations led to research and development of more efficient vehicles. This improved the position of American companies competing in global markets demanding such vehicles.
Americans also benefit from more efficient vehicles. They lower household fuel costs, enabling more savings and spending on other products, benefiting the broader economy.
Washington is a beneficiary. The state is a hub for the development of advanced carbon-fiber composite materials used to build vehicles with lower weight and higher efficiency.
State taxpayers are investing heavily in this industry cluster, by supporting Boeing’s development of next-generation composite aircraft in Everett and through college programs training people for composite-material careers.
A direct link with auto fuel standards is in Moses Lake, where BMW and partners invested $300 million to create the world’s largest carbon-fiber manufacturing plant.
This facility produces carbon threads used to build shells of BMW’s electric and hybrid cars sold in the U.S. and abroad. It created hundreds of good jobs in a largely rural area.
Moses Lake provides yet another example of how globalized the auto industry has become, with jobs, factories and suppliers dispersed in areas where it makes the most sense.
BMW’s investment is tremendous. Yet for America to stay strong, it must do more than produce raw materials that enable overseas carmakers to push the envelope of efficiency.
The biggest winners are atop the food chain, developing technology and producing finished products that succeed globally.
So it’s penny wise and pound-foolish to cut a regulatory program that encourages American companies to stay on the bleeding edge of manufacturing and transportation technology.
If the goal is to make America greater, the government should preserve or create policies that ensure Americans get the best jobs and economic benefit when markets evolve and new technologies emerge.
Then there’s the remarkable, incontrovertible benefit that federal fuel-efficiency standards provide to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While Trump may not be overly concerned about the real and present danger of global warming, most of the developed and developing world is very concerned.
They’ll be looking for ever more energy-efficient vehicles, and we’d like them to buy American.