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Car Companies Join Trump Administration To Block California From Setting Their Own Emission Standards

Toyota, GM, and Fiat Chrysler are among the automakers pushing for uniform federal standards

By Evan Symon, October 29, 2019 2:52 pm

Eleven car companies known as the “Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation” filed with the U.S. Appeals Court of the District of Columbia Monday, joining the Trump Administration in trying to block California from setting their own emission and fuel efficiency rules.

In September, the EPA, directed by the Trump Administration, set out to revoke California’s emissions standards. However, right after the standards were revoked, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stepped in and filed a lawsuit against the removal of the standards. The lawsuit, Governor Gavin Newsom’s tenaciousness on keeping California’s high standards of auto emissions and fuel efficiency, and private deals reached with Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen, along with legal challenges from 22 other states, had weakened the Trump Administration’s resolve in the past month. This led to the new suit being filed.

The Trump Administration has claimed that federal law is above any state-passed law over matters, while California has said that there is no law that blocks them from setting higher standards, and that with 12 other states and the District of Columbia itself also having higher than Federal standards, that this is a states issue.

In the lawsuit, the”Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation,” which consists of Toyota, GM, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Nissan, Maserati, Kia, Ferrari, Aston-Martin, Isuzu, and McLaren, backed the EPA, saying that “states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards.”

Global Automakers CEO John Bozzella. (Global Automakers)

John Bozzella, the CEO of Global Automakers who spoke for the Coalition, stated Monday that a single Federal regulation was better for companies than multiple regulations.

“It’s been the federal policy for the better part of 40 years that the federal government has the sole responsibility for regulating fuel economy standards, but it doesn’t have to get to that,” said Bozzella. “There’s a middle ground that supports year over year increases in fuel economy.

“The certainty of one national program, with reasonable, achievable standards, is the surest way to reduce emissions in the timeliest manner. With our industry facing the possibility of multiple, overlapping and inconsistent standards that drive up costs and penalize consumers, we had an obligation to intervene.”

“The decision to intervene in the lawsuit is about how the standard should be applied, not what the standard should be.”

Bozzella also stressed the importance of the environment and the dedication the industry had to electric cars.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (State of California)

In a move that foreshadowed the suit Monday, seven states, including Ohio and Texas, also filed in support of the Trump administration the Friday before, citing “higher vehicle costs” for consumers.

Meanwhile, California plans to fight the new lawsuit.

California Attorney General Becerra’s office gave a short announcement in response to the suit, saying “This action doesn’t change our resolve to fight as long and hard as necessary to protect our standards. The courts have upheld our authority to set standards before and were hopeful they will yet again.”

Currently in California, rules are in place to have a fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, with increases every year. This closely follows the Obama Administration plans set in 2012. The Trump Administration standards call for 37 miles per gallon, with a proposed freezing of standards between 2021 and 2025.

With states and even car companies split even more over the questions of emission and fuel efficiency standards, California faces a difficult road ahead to keep their own standards aimed at the environment rather than the cost.

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