At D.C. Auto Show, Activists Denounce Ford Motor Company’s Greenwashing

April 4, 2019

At D.C. Auto Show, Activists Denounce Ford Motor Company’s Greenwashing 

Organizations in Support of Clean Car Standards Bring Out 10-Foot Inflatable Dinosaur to Represent Automaker’s Outsized Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As policymakers, the auto industry and the public converged on the Washington Auto Show, public interest groups today denounced Ford’s green hypocrisy and called on the company to stop working with the Trump administration to roll back the clean car standards. 

At the event, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, the Safe Climate Campaign and Interfaith Power & Light highlighted Ford’s lobbying of the Trump administration behind the scenes, threatening the historic and essential consumer and climate protections.  

The press conference came as President Donald Trump is pressuring automakers to support his rollback. The groups also unveiled a letter sent to 20 automakers calling on the companies to choose the side of the public and support the popular Obama-era standards.

On display was a 10-foot-tall inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex and activists in dinosaur costumes. The prehistoric reptiles were impossible to miss near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and were meant to illustrate Ford’s outsized pollution: The annual climate pollution emitted from the automaker’s Expedition SUV (9 tons) is the equivalent of the weight of a Tyrannosaurus rex. In January, at the Detroit Auto Show, the dinosaurs made an appearance in Ford’s hometown with the same message.

Last August, the Trump administration proposed to freeze the clean car standards at 2020 levels and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state and 12 others to protect their residents from harmful tailpipe pollution. Experts have warned that the administration’s proposal would lead to an additional 2.2 billion metric tons of climate-disrupting emissions and hundreds of billions extra spent by consumers at the gas pump.

“As Ford Motor Company spins an image of innovation and sustainability, its lobbyists are dismantling our country’s most effective program to combat climate change,” said Madeline Page, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Clean Cars campaign. “Take Ford’s choice to display only one electric vehicle – the discontinued C-Max – at the Washington Auto Show. Time and time again, Ford makes clear its environmental ethics are all talk and no walk.”

“Ford and other automakers are backpedaling on climate and consumer protections that have been protecting communities across the nation for years and driving improvements in fuel efficiency,” said Debbie Sease, Sierra Club’s national campaign director. “Ford’s so-called commitment to fighting climate change is nothing more than greenwashing, considering its role in the rollback of the popular and effective clean car standards.”

“Ford Motor Company told President Trump to kick off the rollback of the clean car standards but it tells the public that it wants to protect the atmosphere,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate campaign. “Ford should stop talking out of both sides of its tailpipe.”
“The clean car standards are a commonsense protection for God’s creation and our most vulnerable communities,” said the Rev. Karen Brau of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Interfaith Power & Light. “It is unacceptable for Ford to turn its back on communities that are being ravaged by pollution and climate change.”

Despite publicly portraying itself as committed to acting on climate change, Ford has been asking for “flexibilities” (or loopholes) to the current standards. For instance, in an an October 2018 comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford touted a dubious study sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers that repeats flawed and criticized assumptions made in the administration’s analysis of costs, benefits and the impacts of a rollback on consumers. In the comment, Ford indicates support for a range of alternative standards suggested by the administration, all of which would increase pollution and cost consumers more at the gas pump. 

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About Public Citizen
Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. Since our founding in 1971, we have defended democracy, resisted corporate power and worked to ensure that government works for the people – not for big corporations. We mobilize activists to grow democratic movements, watchdog Congress, sue the government when it fails to do its job, petition regulatory agencies to safeguard the public and engage in cutting-edge research that effects change. For more information, visit www.citizen.org. 

About Safe Climate Campaign
The Safe Climate Campaign, a project of the Center for Auto Safety, advocates strong
measures to fight global warming. Visit www.safeclimatecampaign.org.

About Interfaith Power & Light
The mission of Interfaith Power & Light is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. This campaign intends to protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all. For more information, visit www.interfaithpowerandlight.org.