When it comes to the environment, there’s an epic battle going on between finances and conscience, resulting in politics.
- The Trump administration is rolling back environmental protections, including relaxing emissions laws on cars.
- Legislators and lobbyists from the petroleum industry are fighting back.
- Not all carmakers support the new proposed laws, as a shift in technology cuts into profits.
With the adoption of electric and alternative-fuel vehicles comes the phasing out of fossil fuels. There’s absolutely no doubt the gas and oil business is a real money gusher, to use an industry appropriate metaphor. In 2016, Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., reaped $27.4 million in total compensation. He presided over a company that generated $205 billion in revenue, with a $7.8 billion profit. We’re talking huge money. It’s telling that Trump appointed someone like Tillerson to Secretary of State – even though he only lasted a little over a year before being fired.
Environment Versus Money
There’s no question, if we don’t stop spewing CO2 emissions into the air, there won’t be an environment for us to live in anymore. So, we’ve got a standoff at the O.K. Corral with those fighting for environmental protection and those who want to continue lining their pockets.
Since Donald Trump took over the job of president, his administration has reversed many environmental protections already put in place and shows no signs of stopping. Now Trump is considering easing limits on tailpipe emissions. With the Federal government tearing down protections, how do those with a conscience fight back?
In the United States, we have the privilege of a democratic government that allows counteractive measures. For example, California, one of the early adopters of electric vehicles, is considering a ban on internal combustion engines (ICE). However, this ban could destabilize and possibly bankrupt electric car companies. Read about how that could happen here.
Democrats Make A Statement
In another strategic maneuver to thwart Trump’s deregulation, Democrats are putting up a bill to end the sale of ICE cars nationwide by 2040 in a two-step process: by 2030, half of all new vehicles must be emissions-free. Unfortunately, the passage of the bill isn’t likely given the Republicans control of the Senate. Nonetheless, the bill sends a message that Americans are ready for the market change and desire protecting the environment.
Because money holds powerful sway, most auto manufacturers aren’t on board with these changes. They primarily produce ICE vehicles and don’t want to make more electric cars.
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who proposed the ICE bill, understands the challenges. “The auto companies are currently fighting against making more electric vehicles, and they, of course, would try to prevent this from becoming law,” he said. “[The bill is] absolutely aggressive, and it should be.”
Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Lobbying Government
Electric car manufacturers also have their concerns. To incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles, the government offers tax credits up to $7,500 effectively lowering the cost of purchase. However, after a manufacturer passes the limit of selling 200,000 vehicles, new customers can’t take advantage of the refund. This puts those manufacturers whose cars are selling well, at a disadvantage. Tesla has already reached the limit and GM is almost there. They, among others in the EV Drive Coalition, are campaigning the government to remove the cap.
When any big revolution in industry begins, there will always be a struggle between the old and new guard. Usually it’s over money, with the old guard battling for survival against new technology and obsolescence. In this case, we have an interesting twist where conscience also plays a factor because there’s more than just money on the line, it’s our very survival.