On Tuesday, the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation (CSAR), the last group of car makers to back litigation to stop California’s separate vehicle emissions standards, ended their legal fight.
In late 2019, former President Donald Trump had attempted to revoke a rule that had allowed California to have stricter car emission standards in comparison to the federal standards, as many car companies had complained of the different standards. A large legal fight ensued, with California and 13 other states that had adopted their regulations suing the federal government right back, with federal agencies then trying to throw out those lawsuits.
By 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), also joined the fight against the federal agencies, with car makers quickly taking sides in the litigation. However, as the presidency of Donald Trump came to a close, most car manufacturers who had sided with the federal government for uniform standards, including General Motors, dropped out or became in favor of the new standards. As the Biden administration has committed to reevaluating standards and has hinted to more California-like standards nationwide, car companies have largely backed down to focus on particulars of the likely new standards. On Monday, the Biden administration even requested the litigation to be halted.
The CASR, which represents Toyota, Hyundai, Fiat Chrysler, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru, had been the last holdout since Biden was sworn in last month. According to the CASR, it was leaving as “a gesture of good faith”.
“In a gesture of good faith and to find a constructive path forward, the CSAR has decided to withdraw from this lawsuit in order to unify the auto industry behind a single national program, with ambitious, achievable standards,” said the CSAR in a statement on Tuesday.
Californian officials, as well as environmental groups, praised the end of the legal action on Tuesday, saying that better environmental regulations had won out.
“Today’s announcement is a win for the hundreds of thousands of activists,” noted the Sierra Club in a statement on Tuesday. “Automakers peeling off like dominos from Trump’s misguided and dangerous lawsuits don’t deserve praise for doing the bare minimum. All automakers must support strong federal clean car standards beyond what the Trump Administration rolled back.”
Industry experts told the Globe that the Biden administration’s commitment to higher standards largely ended the fight.
“As soon as he won, the wind was taken out of their sails,” stated Michigan-based auto industry analyst Kevin Pullman to the Globe. “GM left soon after, and right after they said they wanted the litigation of the California emissions to end, it was game up for the rest. Less than 24 hours later there were no more backing car companies.
“There’s not much more I can say. California won this one.”
More stringent changes to federal emissions standards are expected to be given by the Biden Administration later this year.