Public Citizen in Your State: At Detroit Auto Show, Activists Denounce Ford’s Greenwashing

Public Citizen News / March-April 2019

By Rhoda Feng

This article appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.

As the international auto industry descended on Detroit in January to take in the latest automobile offerings, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Safe Climate Campaign, Breast Cancer Action and Center for Auto Safety gathered in Ford’s hometown to highlight the company’s complicity with the Trump administration in attempting to roll back clean car standards.

On display to make the case were dinosaurs – including a 10-foot-tall inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex – and activists in costume. The prehistoric figures were stationed outside the convention center entrance and were meant to illustrate Ford’s outsized pollution: The annual climate pollution emitted from the company’s Expedition SUV (9 tons) is the equivalent of the weight of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Ford and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers have engaged in a costly multi-year lobbying effort to persuade President Donald Trump to roll back vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, known as the clean car standards. In August, the Trump administration delivered, proposing to freeze the clean car standards at 2020 levels and revoke the California waiver, which allows that state and 12 others to protect their citizens from harmful tailpipe pollution.

In response, more than 350,000 Americans submitted comments in strong support of the existing rules. A final rule is pending.

The groups plan to take the Tyrannosaurus rex to more auto shows across the country this winter and spring.