Earlier in the week, Reuters reported that Trump planned to travel to a suburb of Detroit to announce that his administration would reopen a vehicle economy standard released in the Obama administration’s last week.
At the time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency still had 15 months to lock in a new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard to take effect in 2025. Instead, it issued the regulatory “determination” with just a week left in the Obama administration’s term. It would have required that automobiles and light trucks sold in the United States achieve an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon or better by 2025.
Automakers have complained that the standard conflicts with current consumer preferences for larger trucks and SUVs, trends that have been encouraged by low gasoline prices. General Motors said CEO Mary Barra would attend the president’s announcement to welcome the expected news that the standard would be reopened. When the Obama White House first released the latest extension of a long-standing mandate however, Reuters reported it might be more difficult to undo than other last-minute Obama regulatory actions.
On other files, the new administration has stepped much more slowly. Trump “has moved to fill just one of 46 key science and technology positions that help the government counter risks ranging from chemical and biological attacks to rising seas,” the Washington Post reported. Some of the rest may never be filled, the paper speculated, citing the president’s statement to Fox News that “a lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have.”
The administration’s open hostility to climate science, in particular, prompted one of the country’s most highly respected repositories of climate research to weigh the extraordinary step of accelerating plans to archive that knowledge before “the Trump administration could interfere with their work,” the Los Angeles Times noted.Campus officials at the University of California, San Diego, which hosts the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will meet next week to discuss how to safeguard decades of data.
The White House also began contacting publicly-traded fossil companies to get their views on the Paris agreement, in what Reuters interpreted as a sign that Trump may step back from his campaign promise to pull the country out of the landmark climate deal. Many of the companies “said they would prefer the United States remain in the pact, but would also support reducing U.S. commitments in the deal,” the news agency reported, citing two internal sources.
And the California Public Utilities Commission isn’t wasting any time in its efforts to snap up the expertise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stands to lose as a result of Trump’s proposed 31.4% budget cut and associated staff purge. “Come work for California. Fight climate change,” read the flyer that Sacramento-based CPUC staffer Michael Picker was handing out yesterday outside EPA offices.
“I don’t agree with the president and certainly am not going to shy from an opportunity to give people good work to pursue their goals,” Picker said. “He’s hoping to find a handful of DC-based federal workers willing to move west to work for the utility energy regulator and add some fresh insight and much-needed talent to the CPUC,” added correspondent Rebecca Leber.