California’s relentless clean-air enforcer, Mary Nichols, has divided the automobile industry.
After weeks of secret negotiations, the Chair of the State’s Air Resources Board has announced that Ford, Honda, VW and BMW of America won’t go along with President Trump’s rollback of Barack Obama’s fuel-economy standards.
Nichols claims it’s an “olive branch,” giving car makers the “flexibility” to clean up the air at the same time they continue to market vehicles that make the most money. Brady Dennis of the Washington Post calls it a “big deal,” even if Toyota, GM and 11 other companies revert to Trump’s new federal standards--at least for the moment.
Alan Baum is a consultant for both the industry and environmental organizations. He says the four who made the deal with California have a slight lead on their competitors in developing the technology of the future, with China currently far ahead of them all. He says the western car makers are doing a poor job of educating consumers about the benefits of hybrids and electrics.
Nichols’s history with the Air Resources Board goes back to the 1970’s. She was named Chair by Republican Governor Arnold Schwartenegger and reappointed by Democrats Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom.
She made an international name for herself for years ago when she blew the whistle on Volkswagen for faking emissions tests on the diesel cars it sold for decades all over the world.