From Aluminum Trucks to Eliminating Coal: The Economic Costs of Obama’s CO2 Edicts

by Henry Payne

Why is the U.S. economic recovery struggling? Consider major stories from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times this Wednesday alone.

“General Motors is accelerating efforts to field a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards,” reports the Journal.

Under the Obama administration’s unilateral edict that cars and trucks must average 54.5 mpg by 2025, GM will spend billions converting its Chevy and GMC pickups to aluminum bodies — as Ford has done before it with this year’s F150 pickup — in order to save weight and meet the federal standards. Not customer demands, mind you (fuel efficiency is well down the list of truck-buyer priorities). Government demands. Though industry insiders will not confirm an exact number,  replacing steel with  aluminum will add over a thousand dollars in variable costs (costs above standard materials needs) to each pickup, the best-selling vehicles in America.

To put that in context, the Chevy Volt’s plug-in electric/gas drive train adds about $8,000 in variable costs above the standard, gas-engine Chevy Cruze (the model upon which the Volt is based). Manufacturers are all developing money-losing electrics in order to help their fleets meet the 54.5-by-2025 mandate.

Story #2: “President Obama on Tuesday ordered the development of tough new fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty trucks as part of what aides say will be an increasingly muscular and unilateral campaign to tackle climate change,” reports the New York Times.

“Shock and awe may be the best way to describe what’s happening to the vast majority in trucking with these proposed regulations,” said Todd Spencer, executive VP of the the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a statement lamenting regulations that the EPA estimates will cost nearly $6,000 a truck. With 97 percent of trucking companies owning 20 trucks or fewer, Obama’s CO2 obsession will do serious harm to small business.

And for what?

“Experts said (the White House’s cumulative global warming edicts) should enable Mr. Obama to meet his target of cutting carbon pollution in the United States by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But they said he would still be far short of his goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050,” says the Times.

Yet climate scientists say that 80 percent-by-2050 would be meaningless. Such economy-crippling regulations of 20 percent CO2 reduction per decade for the next four decades – three times the CO2 reduction caused by the Great Recession’s economic slowdown – would only reduce the predicted rise in temperatures by 7 percent.

All pain, no gain. Now add to these restrictions Obama’s diktat to eliminate coal plants and thousands more jobs; raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at a cost of half-a-million jobs by 2016; and Obamacare’s health costs — the number one concern of small business.

In sum, President Obama’s regulations are suffocating American job creation.