Gauging Trump's Emissions Standards Delay On Atlanta

Donald Trump, returning to campaign mode sooner than almost every president before him, is holding a rally in Ypsilanti, Mich., (not Detroit) today.

Former president Barack Obama delivers an address to workers and guests at a Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Detroit in 2010. "We will investigate and demand that his conduct as EPA administrator complies with all the ethical rules that govern attorneys and government employees".

GLINTON: Well, (laughter) it's very complicated. "I know for a fact we weren't called in".

The latter has happened before, if you recall recent years, so do not go running to buy a vehicle that you may not afford to drive if gas becomes more expensive in the future.

Trump listed the progress that's already been made, including how Ford will be adding 700 new jobs to their plant in Flat Rock, Mich., how Fiat Chrysler plans to create 2,000 new jobs in MI and OH, and how General Motors told him today that they will be creating 900 news jobs in MI over the next few months. The EPA regulations are already locked in through 2021, so they can't be changed.

The review follows an appeal from the industry, which wants a relaxation of the standards and more flexibility in how to meet them.

MARTIN: What was the intention?

A White House official told reporters today that the carmakers doing business in the US were right to decry what was perceived as a power play by the Obama administration. Can he do that?

GLINTON: Well, to boil it down - or to really oversimplify it - there is a question in here about whether these regulations were final-final. And essentially, there's going to be a battle every inch of the way.

Vera Pardee of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity said that the president was suffering from "another kind of road rage". "We're just doing the review that was originally agreed to". "Weakening these commonsense standards would undermine successful efforts to combat the pollution emitted by vehicles - emissions that cause widespread, substantial harm to public health and are one of the largest sources of climate change pollution".

MARTIN: So if we get to that point, what is the argument for rolling these standards back?

GLINTON: Well, the White House line is essentially jobs.

These changes will be the end to what Trump says was an "assault on the auto industry". "The current standards would have saved consumers and businesses billions of dollars in fuel costs at the pump, and this is especially important in rural states like Vermont, where we are so dependent on our cars". Individual auto buyers would lose "a net savings of $1,650" (even after accounting for the higher vehicle cost) as the EPA concluded in its final January "Determination on the Appropriateness" of the standards.

But if you look on the other side, the auto companies are doing really well.

A new poll has found that 42 percent of Americans believe that the country is heading in the "right direction", up 15 percent from a year ago.

The greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards, set by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, were tightened in a 2010 deal with automakers and formed a cornerstone of former President Obama's climate policy. "As dealers, our top priority will always be ensuring that working men and women have the ability to purchase the fuel-efficient cars and trucks they need at prices they can afford".

MARTIN: NPR's Sonari Glinton - he covers the auto industry for us.

  • Todd Kelly