The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for April 10th, 2018

Fueling Our Demise

When it comes to fuel efficiency and climate change, automakers have been brazenly talking out of both sides of their mouths. To quote from the NY Times:

At auto shows and on dealership floors, automakers are quick to talk about the latest green technology — electric vehicles, hybrids, even hydrogen cars.

But in Washington, the industry is sending a different message. Last month, one of the largest lobbying groups argued in a regulatory filing that the basic science behind climate change is not to be trusted.

In the same filing, the lobbying group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, also cast doubt on the negative effects of tailpipe pollution on human health.

As the article goes on to explain, they’re actually using the same doubt-sowing tactics that were infamously used by the cigarette industry. A 2013 MIT study found 200,000 premature deaths in the US every year due to air pollution, with “emissions from road transportation” being the most significant contributor. If anything, I lowballed the estimate in the third panel of this cartoon.

EPA chief and beady-eyed corruption sponge Scott Pruitt rightly gets much of the blame for cutting Obama’s CAFE standards, but let’s not forget that the automakers began lobbying for this immediately after Trump took office. As much as they might not want to be publicly linked to Pruitt, they are more than complicit. (And yes, we’ll see what happens with California’s challenge to all of this.)

Other recommended reading: this Greenbiz column on the automakers’ hypocrisy, and one of my perennial faves, Mr. Money Mustache on the folly of gargantuan luxury pickups.


Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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