NYT: Trump Advisor Dubbed Auto Makers “the Opposition” in Vehicle Emissions Standoff

Myron Ebell
Myron Ebell – source Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the New York Times, Myron Ebell convinced President Trump to override the concerns of automakers worried about fragmentation of vehicle emissions standards.

Climate Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback

By Hiroko Tabuchi
July 2, 2019

In the early months of the Trump administration, automakers pleaded for — and appeared set to receive — some relief from fuel economy standards that they said were too difficult to meet.

But newly released government emails show how a coalition of groups that reject established climate science quickly muscled into the picture, urging the administration to go much further and roll back the rules entirely and characterizing the automakers as their opponents in achieving that goal.

The automakers are not going to help and may be part of the opposition,” wrote Myron Ebell, a senior figure at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington that disputes that climate change is a problem, in a May 2018 email sent to supporters and an official at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Last month, 17 automakers asked Mr. Trump to soften his approach, saying his plan threatened to hurt their profits and produce “untenable” instability given that California and 13 other states, as well as Canada, are expected to stick with the stricter standards — raising the specter of a national auto market split in two, and a nasty legal battle.

The Auto Alliance, which represents some of the country’s largest automakers, declined to comment.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/climate/climate-deniers-auto-emissions-rollback.html

New York Times tries hard to paint Myron Ebell as the bad guy, but they fail to ask one very important question.

Why would multiple auto emissions standards be such a problem? Why not simply comply with the strongest standard, and satisfy everyone’s automobile emission rules?

The reason is, vehicles which satisfy California’s rules would fail to sell in regions not covered by such strict emissions standards.

A significant number of buyers don’t want vehicles which save every last teaspoon of gasoline, they want automobiles which are comfortable, which can haul a load, pull a caravan or boat, which can handle tough terrain, which have the bulk and strength to keep passengers safe in the event of an accident.

People want automobiles which are useful.

This fragmentation of standards is a headache for large manufacturers, who have to satisfy all the different standards and choices, but an opportunity for smaller regional manufacturers, and an opportunity for ordinary consumers.

By criticising Myron Ebell, New York Times is effectively siding with lazy corporatists who want to use government fiat to constrain the choices of US consumers, to protect their profits at the expense of the consumer choices and quality of life of ordinary Americans.

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Mark Broderick
July 3, 2019 10:15 am

Hey, no one is forcing the automakers to lower THEIR standards, it is an OPTIONAL…

Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 11:01 am

The simplest way to deal with this would be to repeal California’s special ability to set it’s own pollution standards. As Calizuela’s and the Obama EPA’s emission standards were almost entirely regarding “carbon pollution”, there is no downside in a repeal.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 12:14 pm

Actually, I think the best way to deal with it is to allow all automakers to choose the standard they wish. If they decide to build to a more stringent standard and sell in California, nothing is stopping them. If they decide not to construct to the more stringent standards, there are still 49 other states to sell to.
California can always manufacture their own vehicles within the state to the states own standards.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Bryan A
July 3, 2019 1:04 pm

California would be violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution if they did not have a federal exemption. Restraining the virtue signalling by the greens in the legislature is a needed thing, as their malevolent ignorance often spreads to other states.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 12:17 pm

You could always tell California Government to go suck eggs and only manufacture autos to the less stringent standards.
If ALL cars makers no longer followed California Standards, California would have to either change or walk

Reply to  Bryan A
July 3, 2019 2:26 pm

Nobody walks in LA!

Reply to  Bryan A
July 5, 2019 8:37 am

But then our State Attorney General would use our tax dollars to sue the automakers for collusion in restraint of trade. (He doesn’t ever seem to actually require evidence, or probable cause – he just loves to go on TV/radio to announce his latest lawsuits.)

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 12:32 pm

…or even simpler

Build a car manufacturing plant…in California…to only make cars for California

…when they are paying $100,000 for a Yugo they might get the hint

Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2019 11:49 pm

This 👍

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 12:35 pm

when these states that want to ‘act’ independent…
…have to actually ‘be’ independent

The only reason they get away with this crap…the rest of us are supporting it

Tom Halla
Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2019 1:07 pm

California tried to impose a “pollution tax” on any vehicle imported into the state that was not manufactured to meet California standards, but eventually lost in court.
The Democratic People’s Republic of California tends to have contempt for the Constitution.

Walt D.
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 3, 2019 1:05 pm

Don’t assume that what California does is good for the environment.
Recall The MTBE fiasco. California chose to add MTBE to gasoline KNOWING IN ADVANCE THAT IT WOULD RESULT IN EMISSIONS THAT WERE CARCINOGENIC. (Unlike Big Tobacco, Big Government gets a pass).
Needless to say, water was polluted, and emissions actually increased, due to lower gas mileage.
Dr Bill Wattenberg addressed the State Assembly, pointing this out. Afterwards, the Big Oil lobbyist came up to congratulate him on his presentation. He then added. Bill – There is one thing you need to understand – we own these people!

Tom Halla
Reply to  Walt D.
July 3, 2019 1:10 pm

I was a painting contractor in California, and dealing with CARB’s ever changing emission standards for paint was rather difficult, as CARB set a standard for Volatile Organic Compounds that were exceeded in the LA basin by emissions by foliage alone.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 10, 2019 9:14 am

And that, sadly, far too few people know, particularly first hand. That pine woods smell? Volatile organic (carbon) compounds plus ground level ozone (The Great Smoky Mountains were named that centuries ago, long before our ‘fossil’ fuel burning). That sweet fruity smell? Volatile organic compounds. That pleasant flowery smell? Volatile organic compounds. The pheromones emitted by sexually reproducing organisms? Volatile organic compounds. The smell of fermentation? Volatile organic compounds.

People scoffed at President Reagan for quipping about trees polluting … well he had a ranch and did smell the ‘pollution’. FYI, terpenes can and do get converted to soot, naturally, in our oxidizing atmosphere.

July 3, 2019 11:06 am

And the market isn’t already fragmented when automakers sell different vehicles in Europe or Asia? Emissions standards should be an easy hurdle to jump by comparison

Reply to  DABidwell
July 5, 2019 8:41 am

Emission standards are quite a bit harder to meet than headlight standards (for example)

July 3, 2019 11:09 am

If the rules of science can be restored to climate science, all of this noise becomes moot. Correcting the horribly broken science is what the Trump administration should focus on. While the economics of green stand alone as insane and is a tempting target that most people can understand, the state of the science is even worse and until the science is fixed, the political left’s obsession with CO2 emissions will not go away.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 3, 2019 12:27 pm

What science?

When did wild guess, always wrong, predictions of the future climate, based on computer games, programmed by government bureaucrats with science degrees, become real science ?

I know, because the goobermint bureaucrats have science degrees !

July 3, 2019 11:14 am

Historically, US (especially Californian) fuel consumption and emissions standards have been among the toughest in the world, often being contradictory and self-defeating. Early emissions standards could be defeated by injecting air into the exhaust! Such tough emissions standards have not translated into significant improvements in fuel economy, as they mean that engines must be run at less than optimal efficiency, meaning higher fuel consumption. In the past, the standards have also acted as a barrier to entry for foreign manufacturers. Nowadays, anything to do with burning fossil fuels is considered a sin; I even read recently that internal combustion engines using hydrogen power were considered iniquitous as they would still burn (tiny quantities of) lubricating oil. The Californian agenda is to control the car industry by dictating what it can do; let’s not forget that, for manufacturers, having a designated position in a state controlled market is low risk and far preferable to competing in the open market, as they only need to comply with a specific set of regulations. We are seeing the same the increasingly state-regulated energy markets in the Western world – companies that can operate successfully in a particular regulatory framework – often with lucrative subsidies – which would certainly fail in an open market.

July 3, 2019 11:20 am

This has nothing to do with the environment. Instead companies use these “environmental” rules as a way to create fictitious barriers to entry from overseas companies based on standards that are designed to be only achievable (in the short term) by home country suppliers. They do this so that they can bump up the price and charge a lot more to consumers. That is why they don’t want a relaxation of “standards” – because it means that foreign companies will sell consumers something much closer to what they actually want at a lower price.

Garland Lowe
July 3, 2019 11:22 am

reject established climate science
The word “science” should be changed to propaganda or lies

July 3, 2019 11:39 am

It is indeed a tough position for the car makers. A single national standard would be better for everyone. Then the question is, which standard should apply?

For decades California has applied its own vehicle emission standards. That in effect constitutes a restraint on interstate trade imposed by a state, which is prohibited by the Constitution. But Congress has been unable/unwilling to enforce a single nationwide standard for vehicle emissions controls, and fight that fight. Now that other states are starting to join CA in applying their own state emissions limits, so perhaps it is time to have Congress enact a single nationwide standard. It will of course be a massive political fight, but it is time to enforce the Constitution.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Duane
July 3, 2019 11:18 pm

Maybe some vitue signaling expensive add-on could be designed to lower emissions – say a regulator that prevents traveling above the most “economic” speed.

Bruce Cobb
July 3, 2019 11:39 am

I guess they aren’t worried about the negative PR that could send. Good luck with that, automakers.

J Mac
July 3, 2019 11:39 am

Same old Alinsky socialist attack methods: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

If Californians and Canadians want to drive vehicles that cost twice as much for half the functional capabilities, let their markets be served. The rest of us want hauling, towing, safe vehicles that cost less and get reasonable mileage. Let our markets be served also.

Reply to  J Mac
July 3, 2019 6:00 pm

The gubmint mileage diktats have pretty much done away with the comfortable, large sedans that were so popular. Guess what? SUV sales have soared.

Reply to  J Mac
July 3, 2019 6:00 pm

The gubmint mileage diktats have pretty much done away with the comfortable, large sedans that were so popular. Guess what? SUV sales have soared.

July 3, 2019 11:48 am

They’ve already got so much emissions crap crammed in under the hood now that has destroyed fuel mileage, and causes all kinds of problems and breakdowns, that nobody can fix, and no room to even work on them if they could. They should scrap it all and maybe somebody could afford to buy one.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Rob
July 3, 2019 12:46 pm

+ 100 says the driver of a 1992 F150. Best vehicle I own, starts every time I turn the key. 👍

Reply to  Rob
July 3, 2019 1:26 pm

When I think back to the unreliable cr@p I drove in the 1970’s, I think I’ll take the positives out of what we have now. Like cars that start every morning almost without fail; even the modest amongst them capable of cruising at 90 MPH (if one is so inclined) in relative quiet, equipped with Sat Nav, radio, cruise control (adaptive on many now) with self parking, and crash safety beyond that even considered in the 70’s. Air conditioning as standard, and air bags for collision survival; brakes that anticipate emergencies, ABS as well; with suspension and tyres beyond anything we could conceive then – even hands free bluetooth calls, stuff we only saw in Star Trek at the time.

My personal beef is that prices are being driven up, not because of the technology, but like house prices, because of the mortgage syndrome.

But without it, would we have cars as good as they are now?

Reply to  HotScot
July 3, 2019 7:15 pm

Hear! Hear! My 2011 fine Bavarian sedan with dual exhaust and a turbocharger was purchased USED (I never buy new) as a CPO 5-years ago hasn’t even needed to be tuned-up in 5-YEARS! Despite its complexity, I change the oil, and I had to replace the water pump (stupid plastic impellers) and coolant overflow tank (more plastic failure). I was raised and trained to fix things, and even though the electronic water pump is a 8/10 difficulty, my righteous set of tools allowed me to replace it and recharge the pressurized cooling system. I must say, the internet is chock full of really good DIY info. While I was under the car, I replaced the transmission filter and fluid. Other than that, the highly technical, computerized automobile has operated flawlessly. It’s now time to pull the valve cover, replace the plugs and coils … but NOT because the car is running poorly … just because it’s “time”.

The difference between my fine Bavarian automobile, and my very first automobile (a 1969 VW Bug) is so great, they cannot even be considered to both be automobiles. One was a Flintstone car with a sewing machine for an engine … the other is the pinnacle of every automotive innovation in the ensuing 40 years of computerization and manufacturing technology.

I have ZERO interest in a Tesla. None. I like being able to maintain my automobile, and most all of its flawlessly operating systems. I know the sound and feel of my automobile as though she is my mate. I know her every mood and when she isn’t feeling well (virtually – never). And I hate the idea of replacing 1,000lb of proprietary batteries every 10years. And the idea of purchasing a USED Tesla is simply … economically insane.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  HotScot
July 3, 2019 7:24 pm

Depends on your idea of good. I don’t need all of that crap in a vehicle. To each his own. 🤷‍♂️

July 3, 2019 12:09 pm

This is not my great grandfather’s Democrat Party, or the automaker that employed him. This is a Marxist socialist progressive party that my great grandfather and every one of his pals and coworkers back in the day would have in unison voted against. Note that small vehicles are generally unprofitable versus profitable trucks and SUVs, hence the reason why so much production was moved to MEXICO in the last decade or two.

Greg Strebel
July 3, 2019 12:37 pm

As noted by RichardW and Rob, the emissions standards actually work against fuel efficiency, witness the VW engine tuning scandal. The VWs advertised fuel economy could not be achieved without incurring a miniscule increase in NOx.

michael hart
July 3, 2019 12:47 pm

This article also implies, correctly, but does not actually state, that emission standards do not actually need to be the same in states with vastly different population densities and vastly different weather (There, I said it. Weather, not climate.)

July 3, 2019 12:50 pm

If you start with false climate science and deem CO2 a pollutant, you will get the wrong answer every time.


Write the President at

Urge him to start the climate science review under Dr. Will Happer without further delay. It will take time and it is late in his term.

The science of catastrophic human-made global warming and wilder weather is hysterical false nonsense – it IS that simple.

Thank you, Allan

July 4, 2019 6:34 pm

Yes, Myron Bell delivered an excellent educational explanation in this interview recently:


He made crystal clear statements on Canada’s recently declared ‘climate emergency’ and the waste of large scale solar and wind mitigation efforts.
This is the kind of educational material we need in Canada.

July 3, 2019 1:05 pm

Clear up the issue here please.
The issue is *not * pollution!!!
The issue is *not emissions!!!

The issue is CAFE – the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard.
This is a gas mileage, not emissions standard. It dates back to the Carter administration during the days of the 1970s oil shocks and gasoline shortages. The intent was to save gasoline and by extension, oil. Like any Big Government program, it has long outlived it’s usefulness. Now that the US is a net exporter for the first time in many decades, CAFE is wholly irrelevant. In fact, CAFE is flagrantly, abusively, comically, tragically, and profoundly irrelevant.
CAFE should have been scrapped decades ago.

As far as the constitution goes, federal dictates like CAFE are on very thin ice, indeed.
The Commerce Clause is used to justify the intervention based on the federal government power to regulate commerce between the states.
That sounds good.
Right up to the point that you actually read the Commerce Clause.
The clause states that commerce can be regulated between the several states, foreign powers and the indian tribes. It says *nothing* about individuals, or individual businesses.
So unless you are a state, a foreign power, or an indian tribe, the commerce clause does not give the federal government any power to regulate you.

July 3, 2019 1:06 pm

Here in CA … EVERYONE* … drives a clean, green, automobile.

*except illegal aliens, who do not register or insure their vehicles. Neither the police, nor the DMV do anything about all the unsafe cars on the roads … because … of “economic justice”. You see, the illegals, and po-people are cut slack because they cannot afford the high cost of registering and smogging their cars. So the leftist-run government entities ONLY prosecute people of means.

How do I know this? I’ve sat in traffic court and watched the Judge dismiss every single fine and registration fee for people from certain zip codes, and throw the book at other zip codes. The middle class and above get soaked … the poor get off Scot-free.

D. Anderson
July 3, 2019 1:53 pm

Big business loves regulation. It’s a barrier to upstart competition.

Mark S Jordon
July 3, 2019 2:35 pm

The auto companies can charge a premium for vehicles sold in California and other jurisdictions that have more stringent emissions rules than the federal rules. The companies can also tack on some extra charges to pad their profit margins.

July 3, 2019 2:44 pm

Will having two sets of standards really cause financial problems? If the higher standards go into effect for every state, the automakers will have to pay the costs of developing such vehicles anyway.

If variations are allowed the manufacturers can just relax those standards selectively and pass on the production cost savings to customers in states with more rational policies. Lowering costs for such states will generate higher sales than otherwise and more profits. Economics 101: supply and demand.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
July 4, 2019 3:30 am

“Will having two sets of standards really cause financial problems?”

No! Way back when California started the emissions stuff there were two standards. California’s and every other state. I had a Triumph Spitfire manufactured to California emissions standards. And BTW the standards from country to country on other things like the glass used vary also. Or at least they did back in late 80’s when a US service member bought a European car and wanted to bring back to the states after their tour overseas was up.

July 3, 2019 3:02 pm

Not exactly OT – Look what Ben Davidson @ Suspicious0bservers found today –
Out of University of Turku, Finland. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.00165.pdf
What we’ve all known, for years and years now – qualified and quantified. Here’s an excerpt from Conclusion: –
“… During the last hundred years the temperature is increased about 0.1°C because of CO2. The human contribution was about 0.01°C.

3. Conclusion

We have proven that the GCM-models used in IPCC report AR5 cannot compute correctly the natural component included in the observed global temperature. The reason is that the models fail to derive the influences of low cloud cover fraction on the global temperature. A too small natural component results in a too large portion for the contribution of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. That is why IPCC represents the climate sensitivity more than one order of magnitude larger than our sensitivity 0.24°C. Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased CO2 is less than 10 %, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change. The low clouds control mainly the global temperature.”

As Ben commented – “Climate Stunner”.
And this is NOT taking into account the, oh I dunno – 90%? of influence of the Sun, Galaxy and Beyond, beyond TSI, on our planet: – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYoOcaqCzxo (The Fatal Flaw in Climate Science)

July 4, 2019 7:19 am

This is similar to the efforts to get smoking in bars banned in certain cities and states. The news would tout the bar owners who supported the law as some kind of evidence that it had broad support. What they didn’t bother to mention is that the bar owners who supported the law were perfectly within their rights to ban smoking in their establishments if they wanted to, but wouldn’t.

If they support smoking bans, why wouldn’t they ban smoking in their establishments? Because they knew they’d lose business…their smoking patrons would simply go somewhere that didn’t ban smoking. So…they supported a law forcing their competitors to ban smoking too, so the smokers wouldn’t be able to just go somewhere else.

A lot of these regulations and rules are promulgated not to make things better for we the people, but to make things easier and more profitable for the businesses that can afford to drop a few thousand (or tens of thousands…or millions) into campaign coffers.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Sailorcurt
July 6, 2019 9:09 am

That’s already happened in the U.K. There are many reports of the demise of the friendly local pub, because it’s ILLEGAL to smoke indoors where people work. Add to that the sale of (much cheaper) beer in supermarkets, and the very strong enforcement of drink/drive legislation and that gives you encouragement NOT to ‘pop out for a quick one’. On my ex-pat visits back to the UK, I’ve had to get my wife to drive if it was ever possible that I’d drink more than one pint. Pity, because real beer in the UK is immensely superior to that available in South Africa (except for some ‘craft’ brews).

Dr. Bob
July 4, 2019 8:54 am

In 2002 I attended a DOE DEER Workshop (Diesel Engine Emissions Reduction) where all kinds of issues were discussed. Fine particulate emissions from diesel engines was a big topic. This was well before the mandated diesel NOX and PM trap emissions devices were required to meet standards. But the data showing causation of health issues from diesel exhaust was very sketchy at best.

But more telling was a presentation on the historical perspective of gasoline (and diesel) emissions requirements. In 1970, the Los Angeles basin experienced 180 days of ozone non-attainment. There were few vehicular emissions requirements with most cars only having evaporative emissions control devices installed starting in 1968.
By 2002, ozone non-attainment was down to 11 days. During that period, population doubled, vehicular miles traveled quadrupled, and the ozone standard was cut in half. All this was accomplished with simple catalytic converters and fuel injection of 1980’s standards. Remember that most cars in in California last 20 years (unless wrecked).
So, we solved 99.99% of the emissions issues and regulations since then are essentially useless and cost both in initial equipment needed to meet new standards and in fuel efficiency. FE is impacted by about 20% due to restrictions beyond what is needed to keep HC, NOx and PM under control.
Currently, diesel engines meet the same standards as gasoline engines but require substantially more expensive emissions control equipment. Heavy duty trucks carry something like $20,000 in exhaust aftertreatment devices on them now to meet NOx and PM requirements. HC and CO are generally low in Compression Ignition engines.
So every increasing regulations on exhaust emissions are just one more way environmentalists are hurting the economy and society in general to no real benefit. There is no hard scientific data that PM 2.5 is REALLY harming society. If it was, the PM emissions of unregulated vehicles 20 years ago would have caused massive health issue. But this was not seen.
Asthma has been blamed on vehicular pollution, yet when pollution was high in the ’70’s, asthma was a minor problem. Other environmental issues are the cause of asthma including indoor air pollution (from never going outside and being exposed to nature) and from trying to live a too-sterile a life. Man needs to be exposed to all forms of pollutants to build up a tolerance to them. Hay fever is probably the first example of this.
Activist “scientists” have been trying to control society for decades and CAGW is only the latest issue they are using to do so.

Pamela Gray
July 4, 2019 4:56 pm

Good godamighty! The next civil war is gonna be about exhaust? Vapor state versus CO2 state. We need Abraham Lincoln.

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