Ep. 66: California v. Trump
The Trump administration has rolled back more than 80 environmental regulations but some states are fighting back. No state has been more active in the resistance against Trump's environmental deregulations than California.
Case in point: last week, news broke that four of the world’s biggest automakers - Ford, Honda, VW and BMW - brokered a secret deal with the state to make more fuel-efficient cars in coming years. The deal directly undermines one of the Trump administration’s biggest climate policy rollbacks.
In a joint statement, the four automakers said they were driven (no pun, we swear) by a desire for regulatory certainty and to, “ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
The companies made the deal with regulators inside the California EPA (Cal-EPA). Jared Blumenfeld leads that agency and we spoke a few days before the deal between California and the automakers was announced, when those negotiations were still top secret. But he hinted that a deal might be in the works.
“We haven't seen, unfortunately, the Trump administration's willingness to sit down and really be serious about negotiations,” he said. “But the car companies are coming to the table. Electric vehicles, leaner cities, reducing the amount of pollution that causes asthma -- all these things are part of a future that car manufacturers have bought into. The interesting part is that the oil companies are really behind most of these attacks. They are going to the Trump White House, even when the car companies are saying, ‘we're good; we like selling electric vehicles.’”
Blumenfeld says the basis of why Cal-EPA fights the Trump administration is because environmental protection matters. As public servants, he says, they are in charge of protecting public health and the environment.
“We take it seriously,” he says. “And this erosion of public trust and the goal of annihilating environmental laws is something that's really damaging to public health. Last month, the American Medical Association came out with a statement that global warming is the single largest threat to public health in America today. And we have a president and an administration that's really ignoring it to all of our peril.”
Blumenfeld points out that Californians spend a lot of time outdoors. They care about the environment. And that's why they elect people that care about the environment.
“They see Trump's attacks for what they are which is really baseless and doing the bidding of large oil,” he says.
California has some of the toughest environmental laws on the books. And Blumenfeld says California is on the defense.
“We absolutely have no interest in attacking Trump,” he says . “We feel like we're defending ourselves from an attack that's completely unwarranted. Trump’s very forcefully advocating for destroying environmental protections. We need to be as forceful and clear about why they need to be protected. Our goal is to reach out to other states to think about how we can work together to really hold back the tide.”
Blumenfeld says he’s worried that Trump's actions will have an affect on an entire generation of would-be federal regulators and scientists.
“The people that day in day out go to a job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are heroes in my book and he's demoralizing them,” he says. “And people graduating from environmental science, are they going to join up at the EPA? It's really put a chilling effect, a fear in people's hearts, that somehow these institutions that we thought were not susceptible to this level of government intervention are being eroded from the inside.”
>>Listen to the entire episode below or wherever you get your podcasts.
>>Check out Blumenfeld’s podcast, Podship Earth.