Trump Wants Tough New Car Rules — But Only On Foreign Cars

Ingo Wagner/DPA via ZUMA

At the same time that Donald Trump is trying to undermine environmental standards for US cars, he wants to tighten them for imported cars:

Mr. Trump has asked the Environmental Protection Agency and several other agencies, including the Commerce and Transportation departments, to pursue plans to use such laws as the Clean Air Act to subject cars made overseas to strict emissions-standards testing and reviews when entering the U.S. The rules could effectively require more expensive technology on some foreign cars or subject those cars to more expensive hurdles that can be billed to the manufacturer or importer.

Either option would likely raise the costs for foreign cars sold in the U.S., making domestically produced cars cheaper by comparison. This effect of raising prices on consumers is common to most nontariff barriers, which seek to penalize imports through measures other than tariffs or duties.

I don’t even know what to say about this stuff anymore. Is this aimed at Canada and Mexico as yet another threat to force them to cave to his NAFTA demands? Is it a play for votes in the upper Midwest? Does he care that it would mostly affect Europe, Japan, and Korea? Is it just some random idea that sprang from his mind after watching Fox & Friends? There’s no telling.