Fuel standards 1985 all over again

To the editor,

First a couple of facts: cars and trucks now surpass electricity production as the largest source of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. With Syria now signed onto the Paris climate accord, the U.S. is the only country in the world opposed to the agreement. And lastly, a study in the Lancet finds that pollution is responsible for 9 million premature deaths each year – more than the combined toll from war and hunger.

WOW, and now The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, have asked the EPA (aka Scott Pruitt) to review the 2011 fuel efficiency standards because they may be too tough (to average 54.5 mpg by 2025). This coincides with fuel going from $4/gallon in 2011 to now around $2.50. Thus U.S. buyers are going for bigger, less fuel-efficient cars and trucks and the auto industry is happy to oblige, citing economic hardship and lack of sufficient technology.

It wasn’t until 2007 when a new mileage law requiring 35mpg by 2020 that U.S. cars became more fuel efficient and competitive in the U.S. and overseas. In 1985, Ford and GM threatened to shut down their plants and lay off workers rather than comply with new fuel-efficiency standards at that time. And what about the foreign market for our autos? Will we remain competitive if we let our industry pander to pollution and profits over fewer emissions and more mileage on our vehicles? And don’t forget, we also bailed out Chrysler and GM, both of which are profiting and innovating currently, so shouldn’t we demand more from our investment, not less?

Why should we repeat the same mistake we made in 1985? We shouldn’t, unless we value business and profits over innovation, progress, competition and a healthier world. We’ve done that already for far too long, and continuing our past mistakes and polluting will not serve us or our kids and grandkids going forward.

– Tim Thomas, Durango