Automakers reach emissions deal with California, in rebuff to Trump

Pablo Tucker
July 27, 2019

Mary D. Nichols, California's top air pollution regulator, told the Washington Post, "What we have here is a statement of principles meant to reach out to the federal government to move them off the track that they seem to be on and onto a more constructive track".

"To be clear, while the agreement is a positive step forward compared to the Trump Administration's proposed rollback, it does not provide the same consumer and pollution benefits as existing standards".

Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America reached a compromise with the California Air Resources Board on fuel efficiency standards for their vehicles in the years to come, the newspaper said.

The Trump administration aims to freeze mileage standards for light-duty vehicles at about 37 miles per gallon on average, instead of increasing them to about 51 mpg for the 2025 model year as the Obama administration had intended.

Reuters reported, "The stringency of the requirements would increase at a nationwide average annual rate of 3.7% annually starting in the 2022 model year through 2026, and 1% of that annual improvement could be covered by credits awarded for building electrified vehicles". A dozen states follow California's lead on emissions rules, and Canada has recently agreed to as well.

The four major automakers combine to make up about 30 percent of the global auto market, giving California massive leverage in its fight against the Trump administration's rollback efforts. The deal roughly matches the cleaner auto plan put in place by the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency - a plan that the Trump administration has been working feverishly to undo since the president took office in 2017. "This voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers". The Trump administration argues that federal law should preempt California from setting its own emissions rules.

Last month, NPR's Camila Domonoske reported that while automakers were critical of the tightening of emissions standards under the Obama administration, the battle between states and the Trump administration could make manufacturing more hard.

For its part, Volkswagen will continue to push for a single set of greenhouse-gas rules for all 50 states and the federal government, said spokesman Mark Clothier. In White House meetings, they have urged Trump officials to reach a deal rather than risk years of legal battles that would leave them in limbo. That will make newer cars more affordable so people can take advantage of safety technology.

The Trump administration in August 2018 proposed revoking California's right to impose state emissions standards or require more electric vehicles.

"Modestly" revising some limitations CARB had placed on automakers' use of GHG-reducing technologies such as improvements to a vehicle's aerodynamics and internal temperature control, and streamlining the agency's review and approval process for new technologies.

The White House did not immediately comment on the California deal with the automakers.

"In fact, General Motors Co., which did not sign the pact with California, said in a statement, "[Its] focus remains on working with all parties on a solution that would involve a 50-state solution and a national electric vehicle program". The White House rejected that effort and automakers and California launched private talks.

NHTSA, which has federal authority over fuel economy standards and has had to work with the EPA to coordinate them with Carbon dioxide emissions standards, issued a statement saying, "NHTSA and EPA continue to work together toward the final SAFE Vehicles Rule, which will establish maximum feasible standards to which all vehicle manufacturers must comply". In June, 17 domestic and foreign automakers asked the Trump administration and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to "resurrect" their efforts to find common ground, but the White House declined.

Other reports by iNewsToday