August 3, 2018
President Trump’s proposal this week to weaken fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks could be his most consequential climate-policy rollback yet, increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by an amount greater than many midsize countries put out in a year. Transportation now accounts for one-third of America’s carbon-dioxide emissions, surpassing power plants as the largest source, and vehicle emissions have been steadily rising over the past few years. Federal fuel-economy standards were widely seen as a vital tool for curbing gasoline use. States could try to enact other fresh policies to try to cut emissions from the transportation sector and blunt the impact from Trump’s rollback. California and New York, for instance, have been offering tax breaks for people to buy electric vehicles, and they have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new charging infrastructure. Other Northeastern states have been participating in discussions on how to reduce vehicle emissions, through steps like expanding mass transit, buying electric buses or reconfiguring cities to make them denser and more walkable. “Transportation is extremely complicated and it really takes all levels of government working together,” said Vicki Arroyo, the executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, who has been working with states on plans to cut emissions from transportation. If the federal government pulls back, she said, “it’s a tremendous setback.” Read the full story by Brad Plumer in the New York Times.