As California Fumes, Automakers Head to Washington to Talk Emissions

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
as california fumes automakers head to washington to talk emissions

A slew of automakers are scheduled for a Thursday meeting with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation to go over existing Obama-era efficiency rules. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will both be on hand to discuss — and likely reassure — manufacturers on the future of the guidelines.

In March, President Donald Trump ordered an extensive review of U.S. light vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for the 2022-2025 time frame, despite the Obama administration locking them in well ahead of the midterm review’s April 2018 deadline. The decision was rushed to maintain the administration’s climate change policy and avoid any tampering from incoming Trump appointees. While there remains much to be done before the standing emission limits can be rolled back, wheels are now in motion.

Spokespersons for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), a trade group representing the interests of Volkswagen AG, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Daimler AG and other major manufactures, declined to comment on the meeting. However, the most likely scenario includes regulatory heads and the Alliance’s board using the time to discuss exactly how much the current guidelines should change.

Those levels, negotiated with automakers in 2011, aimed to double average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. But the Trump administration has made itself out to be a friend of carmakers, with the president himself suggesting governmental regulations have gotten out of hand and risk harming the industry. There is no reason to think Trump appointees wouldn’t at least attempt to give the AAM some of what it asks for — a scenario to which some are vehemently opposed.

The California Air Resources Board has been publicly opposed to the review since day one and has promised to stick to the Obama-era rules, regardless of a rollback. California regulators and numerous consumer advocacy groups have echoed the Obama claim that the standing emission caps would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, improve air quality, preserve natural resources, and stimulate the economy — leaving the auto industry footing a $200 billion bill for development costs. The AAM refutes these claims, and says the cost to the industry would be substantially higher than estimated.

Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the AAM, claims his group is seeking a “rational, predictable, stable policy,” and not a rollback of the existing standards. However, it’s hard to imagine the AAM turning down a softening of the status quo were it to be offered. Ideally, automakers would like to come to a beneficial arrangement that California could support. The alternative would be a drawn-out, tortuous mess.

Several American jurisdictions plan to pursue whatever course of action California takes, and the Golden State says it is prepared to mount a legal defense against the federal government.

[Source: Automotive News]

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41 of 84 comments
  • Dwford Dwford on Apr 27, 2017

    We need to keep the pressure on to develop EV and hybrid tech, but I think the target needs to be stretched 5 more years. Sticking to the original targets will force the manufacturers to sell loss leader EVs to offset what people are really buying - trucks and crossovers. Postpone the target one more generation and that will give the automakers time to get the costs down and spread the tech to more models. The automakers already have a ton of alt-energy models in the pipeline and would probably still introduce them to the market, but by postponing the target the pressure to sell mass quantities would be off and they could sell what the market demands.

    • See 21 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Apr 30, 2017

      @highdesertcat Those were times of obfuscation and sleight of hand. I remember getting identical Huntron Tracker 2000 readings on the same pins when testing AND-NAND or gate-chips for the HP2100. So one day I tried just a run of the mill, non MILSPEC identical chip on one of my test boards sockets and got the same test results running a FORTRAN comb-filter routine. My supervisor was not impressed at all until I ran a Pi routine that turned out identical by comparison in the comb-filter. He was impressed then, uttering some obscenities about Uncle Sam getting ripped off by HP. Come to think of it, Perkin-Elmer used a lot of "proprietary" chips that were just rebadged run-of-mill civilian chips, without the need of mission-critical MILSPEC testing. Ahhh, but all that is behind me these days. I retired from the military decades ago.

  • Zip89123 Zip89123 on Apr 27, 2017

    Screw California. They've killed everyone's mpg with their formulated gasoline & poisoned our water with MTBE. It's sad when my vehicle gets less mpg now than it did when new. Get rid of 10 million illegal aliens and the air will clean itself.

    • See 16 previous
    • Salzigtal Salzigtal on Apr 29, 2017

      @sayahh A neighbor works for SNARL Lee Vining. Via isotope mapping they can identify the Chinese county of origin of coal particles from frogs trapped within Yosemite National Park. The wall over there is doing a really lousy job of stopping the pollution. Perhaps the Mexican one from the POTUS Asteriscus V Dynasty will be mucho mas yuge. /sarcasm (good idea)

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that