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This Week: Trump And The EPA Have It Out For California

September 19, 2019 12:33 p.m.

Trump admin to California: You have no choice, make your cars less fuel efficient. On Thursday, the EPA and Department of Transportation officially barred California (and other states who’ve joined the nation’s largest) from setting higher fuel economy standards than the federal government. That’s a big deal: California and its compatriots are to cars what Texas is to history textbooks — a market so large it affects the national reality.

By lowering the national standard and prohibiting higher state-by-state standards, the President is also forcing car manufacturers into a position they’ve actively resisted. In June, 17 automakers including Ford, GM, Toyota and Volvo wrote to the administration, urging them not to water down standards that they’ve already spent time and energy meeting. No dice. In addition to strong-arming their way toward dirtier cars, the administration is reportedly pursuing an anti-trust case against manufacturers who’ve insisted on maintaining the California standard.

The kicker?

The administration bizarrely insists that requiring less fuel efficient cars will actually benefit safety and air quality in the long run. How? EPA Administrator Wheeler restated the administration’s argument Thursday — “by reducing the price of new vehicles to help more Americans purchase newer, cleaner, and safer cars and trucks.”

In other California news, the President threatened San Francisco with an EPA citation for its homeless population. “They have to clean it up,” he said. “We can’t have our cities going to hell.” It’s just the latest attempt by Trump to use vulnerable people as political piñatas. His latest threat ignores the fact that the Trump administration has refused giving more money to California to help its homeless residents.

USDA to let slaughterhouses inspect themselves: A new hog slaughter inspection rule from the Trump administration (though years in the making) changes how the industry is held to quality standards, shifting some inspection work to pork producers themselves, away from government workers. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service chief veterinarian told the Washington Post of the draft proposal in April: “This could pass, and everything could be okay for a while, until some disease is missed, and we have an outbreak all over the country.” Also included in the proposal: lifting speed limits on processing lines.

Wilbur Ross, again, forgets about stock he promised to divest. A new report from Forbes’ dogged Ross-watcher Dan Alexander details yet another investment that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross promised to divest but didn’t. It’s not a large sum, and as Ross asserted in a statement, divestment wasn’t legally required. But, Alexander writes, “Ross retained financial ties to America’s greatest economic adversary [China] well into 2019 … and he continues to own an interest in shipping businesses to this day.” Sound familiar? It’s not your imagination.

Finally, another edition of “The Regulated Become The Regulators.” This time, at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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