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Trump administration to undo Barack Obama’s auto Pollution rules that contributes to Global Warming

Trump is also expected to direct Pruitt to begin the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, Obama's rules to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants

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Donald Trump and Barack Obama at White House. VOA
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WASHINGTON, Mar 4, 2017: The Trump administration is expected to begin rolling back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, marking a U-turn to efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars, a media report said.

The announcement – which is expected as soon as Tuesday next week and will be made jointly by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt and Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao – will immediately start to undo one of former President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental legacies, the New York Times reported on Friday.

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Trump is also expected to direct Pruitt to begin the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s rules to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The regulatory rollback on vehicle pollution will relax restrictions on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and will not require action by Congress. It will also have a major effect on the United States auto industry, the daily said.

Under the Obama administration’s vehicle fuel economy standards, American automakers were locked into nearly a decade of trying to design and build ever more sophisticated fuel-efficient vehicles, including electric and hybrid models.

The EPA will also begin legal proceedings to revoke a waiver for California that was allowing the state to enforce the tougher tailpipe standards for its drivers, the New York Times reported.

On February 21, a coalition of the 17 largest companies that sell cars in the US sent two letters to Pruitt, asking him to revisit the tailpipe rules.

They complained about the steep technical challenge posed by the stringent standard, noting that only about 3.5 per cent of new vehicles are able to reach it.

That even excludes some hybrid cars, plug-in electric cars and fuel cell vehicles, the automakers wrote.

The automakers estimated their industry would have to spend a “staggering” $200 billion between 2012 and 2025 to comply and said the tailpipe emissions rule was far more expensive for the industry than enforcing the Clean Power Plan.

Former Obama administration officials and environmentalists denounced Trump’s expected announcement.

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“The rest of the world is moving forward with electric cars. If the Trump administration goes backward, the U.S. won’t be able to compete globally,” said Margo T. Oge, a former senior EPA official.

The tailpipe pollution regulations were among Obama’s major initiatives to reduce global warming and were put forth jointly by the EPA and the Transportation Department.

They would have forced automakers to build passenger cars that achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, compared with about 36 miles per gallon today. (IANS)

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Trump Not Backing Down on Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Canada is the largest U.S. trading partner and last year shipped $7.2 billion worth of aluminum and $4.3 billion of steel to the United States

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • Trump adamant about his tariff plans
  • His decision is facing great criticism
  • It can lead to heavy losses

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday the United States is not backing down on its decision to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum products, despite growing pressure from political and diplomatic allies and U.S. companies to pull back from a policy that could spark a trade war.

President Donald Trump not backing down on his tariff plans. Wikimedia Commons
President Donald Trump not backing down on his tariff plans. Wikimedia Commons

Before a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump suggested Mexico and Canada could be exempted from the planned tariffs if a new and “fair” North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is reached.

“For many years, NAFTA has been a disaster,” Trump said. “We are renegotiating NAFTA as I said I would, and if we don’t make a deal I will terminate NAFTA. But if I do make a deal which is fair to the workers and to the American people, that would be, I would imagine, one of the points that we’ll negotiate. It will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico.”

The three countries are currently working to revise NAFTA, with the latest round of talks wrapping up in Mexico City.

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Economist Gary Hufbauer of the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics told VOA that people in Canada and Mexico see the Trump approach as bullying, and that their officials are less likely to make concessions that look like giving in to a bully. He also said those asking Trump to back off the tariff plan are right to fear a trade war.

“Whether we get to a trade war will depend very much on the reacting of other countries,” Hufbauer said. “The tariffs alone aren’t a trade war, but if other countries react by putting fairly strong restrictions on U.S. exports you can say we’re edging into a trade battle and it may escalate to a trade war.”

Trump’s decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has drawn strong condemnation from some in his own Republican party and from U.S. trading partners around the world. Analysts warned the tariffs will hurt many U.S. allies.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan meets with reporters following a GOP strategy session. VOA
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan meets with reporters following a GOP strategy session. VOA

Ryan is ‘extremely worried’

In a rare break with the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other key Republican lawmakers are trying to convince Trump to change his mind and not impose the tariffs. Ryan and the others say the tariffs would hurt consumers because they could lead businesses to impose higher prices and undercut any positive effect the recent Republican-approved tax cuts would have on the U.S. economy.

The motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc. is headquartered in Ryan’s home state and is being targeted by Europe in retaliation for Trump’s plan to impose steel and aluminum tariffs.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement, “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan. The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration has a “great relationship” with speaker Ryan, but “that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.” Sanders added, “the President has been committed and talked about this for many years, particularly on the campaign trail, and the people came out loud and clear and supported this president, therefore supporting the policies he campaigned on.”

Also Read: Despite ‘Donald Trump effect’, global momentum gained on climate change

Sanders said the administration is still finalizing the details of the measure, and she did not want to provide more information on the decision ahead of the final announcement.

President Trump tweeted last Friday that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” When asked to elaborate, Sanders said “the President feels if we ended up in a trade war, the President is confident we will win, but that’s not the goal, the goal is to get “free, fair, and reciprocal trade, and hope other countries will join him.”

Trump told reporters he does not believe his plan to impose the aluminum and steel tariffs will spark a trade war.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that it is 'unacceptable.' VOA
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that it is ‘unacceptable.’ VOA

‘Absolutely unacceptable’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the tariffs are “absolutely unacceptable.”

In 2016, the last year with complete government statistics, the United States reported it sent $12.5 billion more in goods and services to Canada than it imported, while it had a $55.6 billion trade deficit with Mexico.

Canada is the largest U.S. trading partner and last year shipped $7.2 billion worth of aluminum and $4.3 billion of steel to the United States.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s threatened the European Union could respond by taxing iconic American-made products, such as bourbon whiskey, blue jeans and Harley-Davidson.

To this, Trump responded, “People have to understand, our country, on trade, has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy, everybody. China, Russia, and people we think are wonderful, the European Union, we can’t do business in there, they don’t allow.”

$800 billion lost a year

Trump contended the EU has “trade barriers far worse than tariffs.” He said, “If they want to do something, we’ll just tax their cars that they send in here like water.”

Trump added, the U.S. lost $800 billion a year on trade, and the biggest problem is China. He said, “we lost $500 billion. How previous presidents allow that to happen is disgraceful, but we’re going to take care of it.”

In 2017, Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico accounted for nearly half of all U.S. steel imports. That year, Chinese steel accounted for less than 2 percent of overall U.S. imports. VOA