If you consider climate change to be one of the most urgent problems that governments need to address, then you have a very good reason to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November 2024.  If this wasn’t entirely clear to you before, actions taken this week by the Biden administration, and Trump’s response, should have convinced you.

On Friday, the Transportation Department announced new vehicle mileage standards:

The new standards require American automakers to increase fuel economy so that, across their product lines, their passenger cars would average 65 miles per gallon by 2031, up from 48.7 miles today. The average mileage for light trucks, including pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, would have to reach 45 miles per gallon, up from 35.1 miles per gallon.

This follows up on provisions in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that give tax credits to buyers of new and used electric vehicles and regulations on tailpipe emissions released in April by the Environmental Protection Agency. They all combine to incentivize the manufacturing and purchase of electric vehicles in an effort to phase out the internal combustion engine which is a major cause of global warming. During the transition, these policies will also ensure that gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles will be more efficient.

If there’s anything to criticize in these policies it’s that they do too little and they came too late, but that’s certainly no reason not support them. Trump, of course, is utterly opposed to doing anything that will hurt the oil and gas industry. That became crystal clear in April.

As Donald Trump sat with some of the country’s top oil executives at his Mar-a-Lago Club last month, one executive complained about how they continued to face burdensome environmental regulations despite spending $400 million to lobby the Biden administration in the last year.

Trump’s response stunned several of the executives in the room overlooking the ocean: You all are wealthy enough, he said, that you should raise $1 billion to return me to the White House. At the dinner, he vowed to immediately reverse dozens of President Biden’s environmental rules and policies and stop new ones from being enacted, according to people with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

Giving $1 billion would be a “deal,” Trump said, because of the taxation and regulation they would avoid thanks to him, according to the people.

At the same dinner, Trump called the Biden administration’s new tailpipe emissions rule “ridiculous” and promised to scrap it. More generally, Trump has promised to end federal support for the electric vehicle industry, and he’s promised more drilling permits. Somewhat amusingly, the day before the new mileage standards were issued, Trump was in Arizona and he seemed to realize that his war on electric vehicles might not please one of his biggest supporters.

“We want to get rid of the electric mandate for the cars,” he began, calling it the “green new scam.” Then he added: “By the way, I’m a big fan of electric cars, I’m a fan of Elon. I like Elon but, you know, I like him. I think a lot of people are going to want to buy electric cars. But if you want to buy a different kind of car, you’re going to, you have to have a choice. Some people need to go far. Some people don’t want their car built in China.”

He didn’t mention that Biden has imposed a 100 percent tariff on Chinese electric vehicles in an effort to protect the American car industry which has fallen far behind China and would otherwise face crippling price pressure from imports. Trump’s overall message, which dovetails precisely with the message from the oil and gas industry, is that Biden is trying to ban traditional cars. But if Biden wanted to ban the internal combustion engine, he wouldn’t set fuel efficiency and emission standards, since they would be unnecessary. He aims to phase traditional cars out over time, which is much different than an immediate ban.

“Not only will these new standards save Americans money at the pump every time they fill up, they will also decrease harmful pollution and make America less reliant on foreign oil,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These standards will save car owners more than $600 in gasoline costs over the lifetime of their vehicle.”

So, when you’re talking to your Biden-skeptical but climate-conscious friends, make sure to tell them about how each campaign intends to deal with the electric car industry. It’s a choice that really matters.

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