When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, reports The New York Times, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them.
But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country’s largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.
A report released at the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health earlier this year found that air pollution – both ambient and household – is estimated to cause 7 million deaths per year, 5.6 million deaths are from noncommunicable diseases and 1.5 million from pneumonia. The wider economic impacts of premature deaths due to ambient air pollution amount to US$ 5.7 trillion in welfare losses, or 4.4% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. Motor vehicles are a primary cause of ambient pollution. The Trump-Marathon plan to allow more automobile pollution will increase this health and economic burden, as well as contribute to global warming.
Linking food to other issues and campaigns can amplify the power of food and other movements and increase the chances of winning meaningful victories. Photo: 2017 People’s Climate March. Credit: Mark Dixon.
In the four months since Trump took office, write Nicholas Freudenberg and Mark Bittman in Civil Eats, many of our fears have come true. Spiking deportation activities have scared farmworkers out of the fields and broken up families across the country. The threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act are closer to reality, putting farmers, rural communities, and tens of millions of others at risk of losing their health care. An executive order that claims to promote rural prosperity instead focuses on repealing ag regulations that protect farmworkers, farm communities, and food safety. And, across the board, Trump’s proposed budget would decimate funding to help make healthy, affordable food more available to everyone, especially those already at highest risk of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.
The only silver lining has been the loud, sustained resistance to these devastating policies. Even as this administration works to turn back the progress the food justice movement has made in the past 20 years, many are standing strong and pushing back.
The Trump Administration has postponed implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s menu labeling rules, but New York City is moving ahead with its own set of rules, reports Convenience Store News. On May 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all city chain food retailers offering prepared foods, or “restaurant-type foods,” will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards. In addition, chain restaurants and retailers will be required to have full nutritional information — not just calories — for standard menu items available on site, and they will have to post a statement about the daily recommended caloric intake of 2,000 calories.
The Food and Drug Administration’s approach to consumer protection faces a potential turning point when a Senate committee takes up President Trump’s nomination of Scott Gottlieb to head the agency, writes POGO, the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. Trump has called for slashing FDA restraints on pharmaceuticals, and with Gottlieb’s appointment he would entrust the task to a doctor and former FDA official who has been immersed in the pharmaceutical industry. One of The FDA’s main missions is making sure that prescription medicines sold to the public are safe and effective. The FDA gets much of its funding through so-called “user fees” paid by pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and the money comes with strings attached, giving industry extraordinary leverage over its federal overseer. In Gottlieb, Trump has chosen a potential FDA commissioner whose financial disclosures list line after line of payments from drug and biotech companies.
When President Trump traveled to Michigan last week to announce that his administration will reevaluate (and almost certainly weaken) a key environmental achievement of the past decade — new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks — he alleged that “industry-killing regulations” had contributed to a loss of jobs in the U.S. automobile sector. The truth is, however, writes Yale Environment 360 that there is no factual basis for the claim that stricter standards have killed jobs. There is, however, abundant evidence that these regulations have saved Americans billions of dollars at the pump, bolstered U.S. energy independence, fostered automotive innovation, and led to major reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
CNBC reports that the Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it is extending the feedback period for comments about use of the word “healthy” on food packaging. The move gives the food industry and consumer groups more time to weigh in on whether the government should redefine the meaning of “healthy” on food labels. But it also gives the incoming Trump administration more time to review the issue, and could ultimately lead to reforms in the way the government comes up with food and labeling guidelines.