Gabbing on Gas: White House and California Still On Speaking Terms

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Despite the growing animosity, both California and the Trump administration are still willing to discuss the country’s changing emission regulations. The state is currently heading a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in overturning the previous administration’s decision to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

While the proposals issued by the current administration will eventually see those targets rolled back, a final decision has not been made. The White House claims it wants to maintain an open dialogue with the Golden State, hoping to reach an agreeable solution, but the California Air Resources Board has argued it doesn’t seem to be acting on those assertions. Meanwhile, EPA head Scott Pruitt maintains that the state will not dictate federal fueling rules as automakers beg the government to do everything in its power to ensure a singular national mandate.

It’s an ugly situation, which makes news of a new round of meetings all the more surprising.

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, part of the Office of Management and Budget, will meet separately with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the California Air Resources Board. According to Reuters, these interactions are scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

During the meetings, the automotive alliance will likely press for lowered targets while claiming a cohesive national standard is the most important outcome. While many manufacturers have come out publicly to support sticking with the existing environmental standards, business is still business. Having the flexibility to make cars less efficient for the American market in the coming years is something they’d all be pleased with. But they can’t do that if California and a handful of other states adhere to different standards.

What’s less clear is what the California Air Resources Board will ask for. While the group has shown a willingness to bend in the past, the most recent draft of the Transportation Department’s proposal recommends freezing fueling requirements at 2020 levels through 2026 and barring California from setting stricter standards than the federal government. It may pursue an all-or-nothing approach and hope it can fight to maintain its waiver to self regulate if it can’t negotiate a good deal.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jun 15, 2018

    What is the problem? Do not sell gas powered cars in CA and thats all. Sell only hybrids or electric versions. When I was shopping for Ford Fusion there were considerably more hybrids available at Ford dealerships than gas powered. it was difficult to find Fusion with gas engine - very limited choice.

    • See 2 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jun 16, 2018

      @ect It's a "standard" that would drastically alter or collapse the US car market. Either that or automakers would face fines in the billions. CARB states would win either way. The fines are relatively small, per violating vehicle, except they would be on higher profit vehicles. This isn't about clean air, CARB just wants the monumental cash grab. If CARB truly wanted cleaner air, they'd attack the dirty, gross polluting train, military, aircraft and oceanliner industries. Except CARB hasn't come forward with what that "standard" would be, since they cannot dictate mpg, only emissions.

  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Jun 16, 2018

    Does anyone who supports Obama's CAFE standards realize that it was Obama's team who created the standards that are eliminating the most fuel efficient and affordable vehicles from our market? Under the old CAFE, the big three had to offer Escorts, Cavaliers, Horizons, and T1000s at low prices to offset the emissions and consumption of bigger, more profitable vehicles. Under the Obama footprint model, the bigger the vehicles you make, the lower the bar gets. Bye bye affordable and efficient new cars. I'm all for selling people what they want to buy. The old CAFE was wrong for making the automakers sell cars people weren't willing to pay for. The new CAFE is wrong for eliminating cars people were paying for by setting their consumption standards impossibly high. If anyone really thinks Marxists are better than markets, we should ship them to Venezuela instead of allowing them to bring Venezuela here.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.