On Monday, three environmental groups – Public Citizen, Greenpeace USA, and the Safe Climate Campaign – staged a protest in Washington, D.C. against Ford Motor Company for its role in lobbying to overturn Obama-era fuel economy rules. The protest involved 300 alarm clocks lined up outside of Ford’s D.C. office building, all sending a symbolic “wakeup call” to Ford about the dangers of climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions – and in particular, those coming from cars’ tailpipes.
The intended message, according to CommonDreams.org: “The climate crisis is real and your efforts with Trump to roll back #CleanerCars standards will not go unnoticed.” Banners featuring printed messages such as “Wake up, Ford,” and “Stop colluding with Trump to make cars dirty again” were also present at the protest.
Ford Motor Company is a member of the industry lobbyist group Auto Alliance, which also represents the interests of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz USA, Volkswagen Group of America, and others. The group began pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency as early as February, 2017 to roll back the Obama-era clean car rules, arguing that they neither feasible nor flexible enough to take into account the realities of consumer preference – esp. the industry-wide shift away from cars and toward crossovers and SUVs.
Ford Motor Company specifically was targeted by The Sierra Club earlier in the year, the environmental activism group publishing a video that suggested Ford supports the rollback “so they can make cars with worse gas mileage than the Model T.” That claim is likely rooted in a rather optimistic estimate of the Ford Model T‘s fuel economy on the order of 25 mpg – a figure that, as far as anyone can tell, was originated by The Sierra Club itself. Ford has offered a much more conservative estimate for the Model T’s fuel economy, of between 13 and 21 mpg.
It’s uncertain how much of an impact the EPA’s decision to reassess automotive fuel economy targets will truly have, given that California, Europen and China have all enacted their own, strict rules. Automakers tend to use the same or similar engineering for products offered around the globe.
“The fact that Ford just denied that it is lobbying the Trump administration to roll back the clean car rules the company agreed to and promised to support, shows that it needs to wake up and smell its pollution,” says Safe Climate Campaign Director Dan Becker.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the government body would get rid of the Obama administration’s 50-mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) target for 2022 through 2025, saying that the standards were “too high”.