The website of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers features friendly green stripes, and a green logo with tracks heading toward a green horizon representing, in the words of their mission statement: “[dedication to] providing safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles that produce less CO2.” Their website also features windmills, polar bears, and a plethora of other greenwash imagery, almost to the point of self-satire.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is, of course, made up of “green” car companies such as GM, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen. In other words, the Alliance is a lobby group funded by these companies.
Together, these otherwise fiercely competitive corporations are working for a common goal—a cessation of California and other states’ attempts to reduce vehicular greenhouse gas emissions. The car companies claim that they are doing enough as it is, and state-based regulations of their tailpipe emissions would ruin them, financially.
However, the Auto Alliance’s protest seems very familiar. Back in the 1970s, GM warned the EPA, “[I]f GM is forced to introduce catalytic converter systems across-the board on 1975 models, the prospect of an unreasonable risk of business catastrophe and massive difficulties with these vehicles in the hands of the public must be faced.” Catalytic converters were shortly after introduced and found to work fine, and customers continued to consume Detroit’s cars.
Similarly, the Auto Alliance’s spiritual predecessor, the Automobile Manufacturer’s Association, discussed the proposed Clean Air Act in 1970, a government effort to regulate national pollution standards, with a certain degree of panic or deception. They claimed: “It presently appears that it will simply not be possible for vehicle manufacturers to achieve the control levels specified in the bill with any fossil fuel-burning engine-including steam, gas turbines, etc., as well as internal combustion engines.” The Clean Air Act, of course, passed and has been amended several times since then—it began the gradual improvement of America’s air quality.
Again, do these protestations sound familiar?
Yet, despite the automakers’ continuing opposition to California’s determined fight against global warming and greenhouse gases, despite their history of false claims and un-environmental practices, and despite the “impossible” technical hurdles they face, they still find the money to lobby congress and run ads like, well, this:
Used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.