Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On Rollbacks, Automakers Tell Trump 'Not So Fast,' Kochs Say 'Burn More Gas'

(Image Credit: President Trump meets with auto industry executives days after taking office. (Credit: The White House, public domain) Click to Enlarge.
It’s a classic case of be careful what you wish for.  Automakers asked the Trump administration to weaken emissions and efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, and are now anxious about just how much the Trump administration actually plans to weaken the standards.

On Friday, May 12, heads of car companies visited the White House, to make the awkward request that Trump not actually give them what they asked for.

In late April a draft of a joint Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) plan leaked, signaling the administration’s intent to halt increases in fuel efficiency (or CAFE) standards after model year 2021, and to perform a legal end run around California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for personal vehicles.

Fearing years of litigation from states — including California and at least a dozen others — and indefinite regulatory uncertainty, the automakers were quick to announce that they aren’t seeking such a radical rollback from the current program.

“We are not asking the administration for a rollback,” said Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Co., at the company’s annual meeting last Thursday.  “We want California at the table, and we want one national standard.”

Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (or Auto Alliance), the main domestic trade group of car companies, warned Congress of a  “regulatory nightmare” if the federal standards and California’s were not aligned.  Bainwol also said that “automakers continue to support increased year-over-year fuel efficiency standards and are investing heavily in new technologies to improve fuel economy for our customers and the environment.”

Not long ago, Bainwol and the automakers were singing a different tune.  “If left unchanged, those standards could cause up to 1.1 million Americans to lose jobs due to lost vehicle sales,” Bainwol wrote in a February 2017 letter to Scott Pruitt and other Trump appointees.

As of this past week, the Auto Alliance is asking for the preservation of “One National Program,” while asking “California to compromise” as well and allow for some added flexibilities to allow for easier compliance as the standards continue to increase. 

Read more at On Rollbacks, Automakers Tell Trump 'Not So Fast,' Kochs Say 'Burn More Gas'

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