Dr. Nicholas Reksten is an environmental economist and professor at the University of Redlands who is a recognized authority on how environmental issues and events impact the economy.
The Trump Administration announced Thursday that it is moving ahead on its plan to roll back the fuel economy mandate set by the Obama Administration. The move is likely to mean fewer high-efficiency, zero-pollution cars on the road. Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said the agency also intends to eliminate California’s authority to set its own automotive emissions rules.
"The most likely end result of the Trump Administration’s recent moves to freeze fuel economy standards at their 2020 levels and eliminate California’s ability to enact its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles will be the status quo. That is, the administration will likely lose the court case challenging the rules that will inevitably be brought against it. Rules that have been established by the federal government through the proper rulemaking process cannot be arbitrarily changed, and I can think of few arguments that would satisfy courts that the fuel economy rules should be frozen.
"The cost-benefit analysis of increasing fuel economy standards is clear: they save consumers money and produce net benefits through pollution reduction. The Administration is arguing that California should not be able to set greenhouse gas emissions targets under its EPA waiver, as emissions in the state have the same impact as emissions elsewhere. However, this neglects the role that greenhouse gas emissions reductions can play in reducing important co-pollutants, such as the chemicals that cause smog.
"I recently spoke to an executive at a major automaker, and I was told that, at this point, the overwhelming opinion in the company was that the Administration’s efforts would fail. They are therefore not changing production plans."
Dr. Reksten holds a Ph.D. in economics and B.A. in international studies and economics from American University.