Oil company played major role in influencing car emissions rollback: report

The Trump administration’s decision to roll back auto emission standards this past summer was in part influenced by the country’s largest oil refiner, according to a New York Times report Thursday.

A covert lobbying campaign launched by Marathon Petroleum sent dozens of letters to members of Congress promoting the need to weaken the Obama-era emissions standards, all based largely on the premise that energy conservation was no longer needed due to the country’s recent surge in oil production, the Times reports.

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The company successfully launched its information campaign with the help of powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by Charles Koch, according to the report.

The letters sent to lawmakers over the summer on behalf of Marathon Petroleum included the argument: “With oil scarcity no longer a concern,” Americans should be given a “choice in vehicles that best fit their needs,” according to a draft obtained by the Times. A review of correspondence later sent between a dozen members of Congress and regulators included exact phrases and sentences from the industry group’s talking points.

In August, the Trump administration formally submitted a proposal to weaken the vehicle emission rules first established by Obama in 2012, following months of anticipation on the issue.

In a major rebuke of a key pillar of Obama’s greenhouse gas-cutting legacy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) declared that the heightened emissions standards set to take effect for cars built from 2021 and 2026 were unreasonable for both economic and safety reasons.

Instead, the EPA and DOT are now proposing freezing the standards at their planned 2020 level, canceling any future strengthening.

Automakers at the time were relatively unprepared for such significant rollbacks, with many previously asking for more leeway in achieving Obama’s 2025 goals, instead of a full freeze.

That reality points to how significant of an impact the fossil fuel industry has had on the Trump administration's decision.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE, and a number of his Cabinet secretaries, frequently tout the need for U.S. energy independence and boast about the country's newfound dominance in oil production. The U.S. surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia in crude production this year.