Trump begins rollback of Obama’s car pollution standards to kerb emissions

Automakers welcome presidents plan for EPA to review fuel efficiency mandate while critics warn reversal would endanger health and environment

Donald Trump has begun the process of rolling back carbon pollution standards for vehicles following a meeting with automakers in Detroit, Michigan.

Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review fuel efficiency standards that were a key plank of Barack Obamas effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move is a victory for carmakers who have claimed the standards are too onerous and out of step with Americans car buying habits.

These standards are costly for automakers and the American people, said the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

We will work with our partners at the department of transport to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.

In an agreement struck with automakers in 2012, the Obama administration required that cars run 54.4 miles per gallon of fuel by 2025. This standard, up from 27.5 miles per gallon, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6bn tons over the lifetime of new vehicles and save 2m gallons of oil per day by 2025.

In the final month of Obamas presidency, the EPA affirmed in a midterm review that automakers are well positioned to meet the new standard. Trump is ordering a review of this finding, opening the way for a weaker standard to be drawn up. The White House said the new review will rely on the best available data and information, which the previous administration ignored.

A White House official said the automakers feel the EPA shoved it down their throats and that the standards needed to be redone.

The process was very short-circuited, said the Trump official, who spoke anonymously before the presidents announcement. There was a lot of data that was submitted, and I think it is fair to say the Obama EPA just ignored it.

Trump unveiled the review at an event in Detroit where he met with executives from companies, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat. The president said he was going to bring a lot of jobs back to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Dennis Williams, president of the United Auto Workers union, raised concerns about the environmental impact of more loose fuel efficiency standards. In response, Trump said: We all agree with you 100%. One hundred percent. We want you to make great cars, but if it takes an extra thimble of fuel, we want you to do it.

Former EPA officials and environmental groups have decried the reversal, pointing out that carmakers had previously complained about fuel efficiency standards only to easily meet the requirements due to the evolution of technology. There are already more than 100 car and SUV models that meet standards that stretch beyond 2020, with the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Spark and Smart ForTwo already matching the 2025 standard.

American drivers are also set to lose out, with the Obama rules forecast to save an average of $8,000 on gasoline costs for a new car.

We need to put clean car standards in the fast lane to keep our air clean and our climate safe, said Michael Brune, executive director of environmental group, the Sierra Club. Donald Trump and the automakers are endangering the health of our children and families by abolishing lifesaving vehicle emissions protections that cut down on dangerous smog pollution and asthma attacks.

Kristin Igusky, climate program associate at the World Resources Institute, added: Theres no doubt that the current standards are reasonable and achievable. In fact, the industry as a whole has surpassed the vehicle standards in each of the last four years, while creating jobs and selling more vehicles than ever.

Carmakers welcomed the review. Mitch Bainwol, president and chief executive of trade lobby group, Auto Alliance, said:By restarting this review, analysis rather than politics will produce a final decision.

Trumps rolling back of fuel efficiency standards is set to be followed by further actions to dismantle climate policies enacted by Obama. The administration is set to lift a moratorium on coalmining on federal land and start to unpick various climate rules, including the Clean Power Plan, which imposes emissions limits on the states.

Trump is also mulling whether to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. On Wednesday, an alliance of 1,000 US companies took out ads in Washington DC publications to urge Trump to stay in the deal and work towards a low-carbon economy.

The group, which includes Mars, General Mills and Ikea, warned that failure to tackle climate change could put Americas economic prosperity at risk.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Obama thrills Silicon Valley with pledge to invest$ 4 billion in self-driving cars

Venture capitalists and Silicon Valley firms have been pouring money into autonomous vehicles for years, but there’s a new investor getting in on the action: the United States government.

The Obama administration on Thursday called for$ 4 billion of spending on self-driving cars.

The investment, which would be budgeted over a 10 -year period, will be used to “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects, ” according to a statement by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration( NHTSA ).

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, promised a series of initiatives aimed at solving the considerable technological and legal challenges that could otherwise slacken the rollout and adoption of self-driving vehicles.

Now in its final year, the Obama administration is advising a longterm opinion toward federal involvement in the development of autonomous vehicles. Foxx indicated the process could take several decades while emphasizing the potential benefits of a future with roads occupied by self-driving cars.

“Automated vehicles promise to move people and goods more efficiently than we are moving them today, ” Foxx continued. “And, when automation is combined with other technologies like electric motors and innovations coming out of the sharing economy, we will be able to reduce congestion and pollution even further.”

Bryant Walker Smith, chair of theEmerging Technology Law Committeeof theTransportation Research Boardof the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, compared this stage of investment in autonomous vehicles to the invention of the airplane.

“We’re all lucky that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a beach where they could fly their aircrafts. The relevant proposals is about determining that beach for the 21 st Century, ” he said. “In words of funding, it could rival European efforts.”

Smith cautioned, however, that the White House’s pledge is simply a proposal with no detailsnot a definitive investment. The nearly$ 4 billion in suggested spending will appear in the administration’s 2017 budget.

In the near word, Foxx said there are plans to have the NHTSA work with automakers and state governments to develop model laws and regulations for states to adopt. This will take place over the next six months, he said, with hopes of creating a route to a consistent national policy.

Some early steps are already in place. The U.S. Department of Transportation( DOT) has launched initiatives to learn more about the future of transportation, including connected vehicle test beds across the country and the Smart City Challenge. Likewise, the NHTSA has funded a project to develop best practices among the states with respect to automated driving.

Still, Smith called the six-month goal for policy framework “remarkably ambitious, ” and he suggested it is “both inspired and imperiled” by the impending end of the administration.

“Policy is about much more than passing a law, ” Smith said. “I’m pleased that the U.S. DOT is going to facilitate a more thoughtful approach to the regulatory topics. Some countries have been essentially praying the U.S. DOT to do this for years. But states will still play an important role in calibrating their laws, preparing their roads, and taking other measures to encourage automated driving.”

In Silicon Valley, tech companies have welcomed the pledge, which is an expansion on Obama’s statement during the State of the Union to invest in a “2 1st century transportation system.”

“Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives, ” spokesperson forGoogletold the Daily Dot, “so we welcome the secretary’s commitment to removing barriers that may prevent them from sharing the roads when they’re ready.”

Areportin December indicated Google is planning to partner with Ford to manufactureself-driving vehiclesthat would be used to develop a ridesharing service.

The statement from the search giant echoed Foxx’s on the health risks security benefits of autonomous vehicle technology, which the secretary suggested could have saved “more than 25,000 lives … in 2015 alone.”

There is some question as to just how much safer self-driving cars will be; a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that self-driving vehicles have a higher crash rate per million miles traveled than conventional vehicles. However, most of those accidents were were caused by human drivers slamming into the computer-controlled automobiles, suggesting people still have not adjusted yet to sharing the roads with autonomous cars.

Lyftand General Motors recentlyannounceda plan to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads of Austin, Tx. for users of the ridesharing platform.

A spokesperson ridesharing service Lyft told the Daily Dot that the company is “optimistic about the Obama administration’s plan to support the introduction of autonomous cars.”

“Safety is the top priority for Lyft and GM’s on-demand autonomous network, which will introduce self-driving autoes to the U.S ., ” the spokesman said. “We look forward to continuing to work with federal, nation, and localgovernments to shape the future of mobility.”

While ridesharing is clearly a focus of the future of transportation for many firms, consumer-focused companies are also optimistic about the government’s participation in the future of autonomous technology.

“A consistent, coordinated, and transparentregulatoryframeworkis the best way toallowtechnologyto moveforward, ” aTeslaspokesperson told the Daily Dot. “Our conversations with the Department of Transportation and California DMV have been quite positive. Theybothclearly acknowledge the safety potential ofautonomous transport and want tosupportit ina style that encourages its appropriate growth and introduction into the market.”

H/ T The Hill | Photo via Open Grid Scheduler/ Flickr( Public Domain )

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Samuel L Jackson says he carries a firearm and is against gun control

Actor says guns are a natural way for Americans to defend themselves and he would use one on an intruder in his home

The actor Samuel L Jackson has spoken out against gun control and revealed he carries a weapon that he would not hesitate to use against a burglar.

In a week when Barack Obama made a tearful plea for new rules to limit gun ownership in the wake of numerous mass shootings, Jackson, a lifelong Democrat, defended US citizens right to bear arms.

The 67-year-old said it was a natural way for Americans to defend themselves and their property.

Speaking to the Times, Jackson said he had continued carrying a gun after becoming a successful actor. I am not an unarmed citizen now, he said.

He added that he would use his gun against anyone trying to break into his home. He said he would tell any intruder: Get the fuck out of my house. I have a gun, adding that if the warning was ignored a big tongue of fire will come out of the end of this weapon.

Jackson is best known for his Oscar-nominated performance as a hitman in Quentin Tarantinos film Pulp Fiction, when he quoted passages from the book of Ezekiel about vengeance before killing his victims.

Jackson has expressed opposition to gun control before. In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012, he told an interviewer: I dont think its about more gun control.

But in the latest intervention, he recalled how he grew up in an armed and segregated area of Tennessee. He said following the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963, guns gave his neighbours a sense of security amid fears of white supremacists.

In my black community, everybody was loading their guns because we were just sure that, OK, they killed Kennedy, the Klan is coming for us, he said.

In the interview, Jackson also joked that he blamed Tarantino for the fact that he has never won an Oscar, after the director cut scenes out of the film Django Unchained.

He said: I talked a lot in Django. Its just not on screen because he cut it out. I looked at him like, Dude you left my Oscar on the floor.

But the actor insisted he was not bitter, claiming no one remembered Oscar winners.

Who won an Oscar for best actor last year? … I guarantee you, if you ask somebody who is the highest-grossing actor in the history of movies, theyll go, Oh, Samuel L Jackson.

Unfortunately for Jackson, however, he was overtaken in the last few days by Harrison Ford star of the record-breaking Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the highest-grossing actor of all time.

Read more: www.theguardian.com