Clean Cars Campaign
A multi-state, grassroots media campaign in the country’s Southwest to address the roll back of the federal Clean Car Standards.
Four days after President Trump’s inauguration, major automakers visited the White House to request an easing of the country’s successful Clean Car rule. In response, the administration directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to rollback the Obama-era standards and revoke California’s Clean Air Act waiver. It was one of the most consequential rollbacks of climate regulations under the current administration to date.
Resolute was engaged by a broad coalition of leading national environmental, progressive, and public health organizations to implement a multi-state, grassroots media campaign to address and publicly push back against the administration on this federal decision. The objective of the campaign was to generate earned and social media coverage around media events supporting the Clean Car Standards while holding accountable specific elected officials.
Strategy and Tactics:
Over the course of 12 months, Resolute strategically organized earned media events in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah with diverse speaker and organization participation, recruiting two of Utah’s top Republican political leaders – State Representative Stephen Handy and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney – to publicly speak out in opposition to the rollback.
Tactics executed throughout the campaign included:
- Extensive stakeholder assessment of local environmental, political, national security, and public health organizations to engage and recruit
- Built a broad coalition of over 50 community supporters for the opposition campaign
- Employed both digital and earned media tactics to elevate the campaign’s issue
- Secured media stories in major media markets throughout Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, including front page media coverage in Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune
- Secured a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed written by two bipartisan legislators opposing the federal rollback – State Representatives Suzanne Harrison and Stephen Handy
Building Bipartisanship for Climate Progress
A unique challenge the campaign faced was identifying and recruiting quality, diverse speakers for multiple media events across the Southwest during the year-long campaign. Recruiting elected officials from both side of the aisle, while holding multiple media events throughout the country’s Southwest region, was critical to our success.
This results-driven campaign focused on recruiting new, non-environmental/non-traditional voices to speak out in opposition to the proposed rollback. For example, the campaign centered on identifying and raising the voices of individuals that matter to the clean cars debate and educating the public and the media about the importance of the rollback to local Southwest communities, such as:
- Republican elected officials
- National security experts
- Retired high-ranking military officers
- Law enforcement
- Medical personnel, such as medical students, pediatricians, board-certified anesthesiologist
- Pastors and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church
- Atmospheric sciences, climate policy, and air quality experts, including professor from Brigham Young University and Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability
- Local business owners
- Concerned parents
From the beginning, we knew success would be tied to our ability to activate strong local third-party stakeholders who would publicly voice their opposition to the rollback of this live-saving measure.
Resolute executed 8 media events throughout the country’s Southwest region and secured positive, hard-hitting media coverage for the campaign, ultimately demonstrating this was a powerful environmental issue that crossed party lines, and also prompted the first Republican U.S. Senator to speak up in opposition to the federal rollback of the Clean Car Standards.
As a result, the campaign generated more than 50 earned media clips and created social media interaction between our targeted political leaders, recruited and engaged more than 50 community stakeholders across the Southwest, and brought together support from a wide range of bipartisan elected officials. All of the stakeholders involved shared a commitment to prevent the federal rollback of the Clean Car Standards in order to combat climate change and avoid detrimental long-term environmental consequences.
In addition, major automakers – Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — reached a voluntary agreement with California in 2019 to improve fuel economy in the coming years, in spite of the federal rollback.
The broad coalition that engaged Resolute Consulting was comprised of Non-Profits with limited resources, which resulted in the development of a successful campaign with a limited budget.