The news, first reported by Bloomberg, that Toyota will be moving many of its Southern California-based sales and marketing positions to Plano, TX, is shocking for a number of reasons.
The most obvious to me is this is an automaker that constantly preaches its commitment to the environment, taking a large chunk of jobs from what is one of the most eco-friendly states in the union to the U.S.’s equivalent of China.
Last year, Texas was given the dubious distinction of being the “least green” state in the U.S. due to having the most annual carbon-dioxide emissions by metric ton, not surprisingly resulting in the worst air quality in the U.S.
Texas also scored poorly on mass transit (there simply isn’t enough of it for the state’s population), recycling and ravenous gasoline consumption.
The New Republic put it succinctly in 2011, asking if Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s record on the environment was just “bad, or awful?”
Perry is a well-known climate-change denier and has fought against stricter government regulation on the environment for decades. In 2010, he famously sued the EPA after the agency decreed CO2 a pollutant.
Texas’ laissez-faire attitude on the environment (and safety, but that’s a blog for a different day) was typified last year when a fertilizer plant exploded in the town of West, TX.
At the time of the April 17 explosion, which killed 15 people and injured at least 160, the plant had not been inspected by the state for seven years.
“Records show the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated West Fertilizer on June 20, 2006, after receiving a complaint of a strong ammonia smell,” the Houston Chronicle reported last year. “West Fertilizer Co. was cited by state regulators in 2006 for failing to obtain or qualify for a (state air-pollution) permit.”
Toyota’s reputation isn’t totally clean on the environment. After all it sells a fullsize pickup, the Tundra, and several large SUVs, the Toyota Sequoia and Land Cruiser and the Lexus LX and GX.
But it has sold more hybrids, mostly in the form of its Prius model, than any other automaker, and has a long-standing mandate to put a hybrid version of nearly every model in its lineup on the road in the 2020s.
It also continues to be a leader on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, with a salable HFCV planned for next year.
Some analysts and commenters have suggested the cost of California’s environmental regulations, which come in the form of increased taxes on businesses operating in the state, is the key factor behind Toyota’s decision to mosey on to Texas.
The regulations have helped clear the notoriously smoggy air in the Golden State, resulting in an optimal environment to work and have fun.
If the No.1 Japanese automaker really did pull the plug on its Torrance operations for tax reasons, we’ll know what “green” status really counts in Toyota City.