After several advocacies raised the alarm over the prospect of Toyota lending its management expertise to the U.S. EPA, Toyota said it has decided against it at this time.
The specific division within Toyota is more accurately Toyota Systems Production Support Center (TSSC), which for 25 years has consulted with government agencies and non-government organizations, and the whole story got rolling when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated the EPA was moving forward with “Toyota.”
“We are actually partnering with Toyota to begin a lean process at the agency to evaluate management practices,” Pruitt said at the first of two hearings before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the morning of Dec. 7 in response to Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). “The agency for many years ― and this is something I found surprising ― has not measured outcomes consistently.”
SEE ALSO: Advocates Urge Toyota To Not Consult For Scott Pruitt and the EPA
The statement was an answer to Shimkus’ question how the EPA measured its workload and determined how many people were necessary to meet its goals.
Because Pruitt has been the target of deep criticism what advocates say is dismantling much of the EPA and catering to polluting businesses, his statement induced a salvo of protests.
Groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Consumers Union, and others fired off press releases to media to focus the spotlight on what was described as a conflict of interest.
On particularly group with a particularly poignant rebuke was Washington-based Environmental Working Group. A letter by EWG President Ken Cook said Toyota’s helping Pruitt “manage EPA into the ground” would betray quality, effectiveness and efficiency represented by the vaunted “Toyota Way” and the company’s reputation for and commitment to environmental responsibility.
“Mr. Lentz, if you were managing Toyota the way Scott Pruitt is managing the EPA, your annual ‘Toyotathon’ would be featuring showrooms stocked with Edsels and Studebakers, not the fleet of advanced, pioneering, energy-efficient models that for decades have strongly appealed to environmentally conscious American buyers,” Cook wrote.
“We urge you to immediately and unambiguously announce Toyota’s rejection of any management partnership with EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt,” the letter said. “To do otherwise risks irreparable harm to Toyota’s brand and reputation in the American marketplace.”
Toyota in response sent him a letter Jan. 9 answering his concerns, and in the end noted it was calling off initial exploratory talks.
“Before TSSC engages with an organization, it conducts many preliminary discussions that, for a variety of reasons, often do not make it past that stage,” said TSS in the letter. “This was the case with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA and TSSC had preliminary discussions about how EPA could employ a model similar to TPS, but at the point there are no definitive plans to move forward.”
The statement came after explaining TSSC’s background, and it gave no further explanation of its rationale.
Cook said in an email to HybridCars.com that apparently Toyota has seen the light of day on points he and others made.
“Even the appearance of helping Mr. Pruitt dismantle public health and environmental protections at EPA would be a public relations nightmare for Toyota, and it seems the company agrees,” said Ken Cook. “It would be wise for any corporation that cares about its brand and market share among environmentally conscious consumers to steer clear of the Trump administration. They’re bad for business.”
“I’m sure Toyota executives can imagine what would happen to the company’s brand, reputation and the quality of their cars if they adopted Pruitt’s approach,” added Cook. “More accidents, injuries and fatalities always occur when companies or governments cut corners on safety, and the same fate will befall public health as Pruitt saps EPA of its talented workforce.”
Linked here is a letter from Cook, and below is Toyota’s response.
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