The California Air Resources Board refused to attend the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this week, adding to the ongoing feud between the state of California and the Federal Government over setting car emission and fuel economy standards.
The feud reached a tipping point in September when the EPA attempted to take away California’s more stringent car standards in favor a uniform nationwide policy. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded with a lawsuit that is currently ongoing.
Currently car companies are split on which side they are backing, despite everyone agreeing that an accepted standard would be best for business because of the challenges of shipping differently made cars to different places. Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford reached a deal with California over California standards, while others like Toyota, Nissan, and GM decided to go with the federal standards. The Californian government has further decided to only buy from those companies that agree to California’s standards.
The car show is yet another round in this battle, but is important because the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has the power to approve or disapprove cars, trucks, and other vehicles coming into California. “Regulated entities are expected to understand what they need to do to comply and the consequences of non-compliance,” the CARB Enforcement says. “They need to know that mechanisms are in place to enforce against non-compliance, achieve a level playing- field and maximize emissions reductions for public health and environmental protection.”
CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols was vocal last week about the decision not to attend.
“We have not cut off all communications with any representatives from any of the auto making companies. We’re not pulling up the drawbridge to California here. But we’re definitely sending the message that it’s not business as usual,” said CARB Chairwoman Nichols.
The CARB official statement was even more to the point.
“For the first time in more than 50 years the California Air Resources Board will not be attending the LA Auto Show,” noted the official CARB statement. “Each year, top CARB officials have taken a company-by-company tour led by the Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to see new vehicles and meet with company executives. This year CARB will not take that annual tour,” CARB said in a statement.
“The decision not to attend the LA Auto Show is a direct response to the action taken last month by 15 automakers, including GM and Toyota, and the National Automobile Dealers Association, to side with the Trump administration in its effort to eviscerate California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emissions standards.”
Experts have said that this move is more symbolic more than anything, but still has an effect.
“It’s letting all the car companies know where they still stand. ‘Showing the flag’ so to speak’,” explain Dylan Harris, a car dealer who was attending the auto show. “It’s a reminder for everyone of where they are at. For us it also means that California, win or lose, won’t forget what stance they took and what it could mean for them years down the line.”
While the car show is to end the first week of December, the fight over emission standards is expected to go into next year until at least the election.