By on October 5, 2018

California is considering a formal, public counter-proposal to the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of the existing fuel economy requirements for passenger vehicles. Gearing up for the launch, the state has requested that automakers present detailed information on their future products and explain why they’re seeking relief from fueling mandates they previously agreed to adhere to.

“They’ve never submitted to us any information that would back up those claims in any detail to help us craft a solution,” Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, (CARB), said in a Thursday interview with Bloomberg

“They’ve never asked for anything specific,’” she said. “They’ve just said, ‘It’s too expensive, too hard, can’t do it.'”

Nichols estimated that automakers will begin providing the requested information over the next few weeks. She also confessed that she was unsure if the state would end up moving forward with a counter-proposal to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency’s “SAFE Vehicle Rule.” But it seems likely, as one of it’s key tenants involves stripping California of its ability to self-regulate.

Officially, CARB is still in negotiations with the federal government as both parties work toward a national fuel economy standard. But neither party seems to be making any overt headway toward a solution the other would find agreeable. Rumors abound that neither side wants to budge and that negotiations have completely stalled, but few involved are prepared to elaborate.

Nichols previously said she’d be willing to negotiate, but hasn’t sounded particularly optimistic. “Unfortunately, by putting out these proposals, the administration has effectively precluded our ability to engage in a conversation with them,” the CARB chair said in August. “We can’t possibly, other than in a formal legal proceeding, suggest alternatives they might like.”

However, Nichols did admit she is still readying a legal defense in case everything goes to pot and California is left without recourse on Thursday. The state’s goal remains fixated on maintaining those Obama-era targets, which would increase corporate average fuel efficiency up to about 47 mpg by 2025. The Trump administration’s proposal recommends freezing those levels at 37 mpg in 2020. “It’s an important goal,” Nichols said. “It reminds of why we’re doing this in the first place.”

For now, federal regulators seem content to continue negotiating with California to seek a national standard that everyone can agree with. However, that change only occurred after automakers pleaded with the government not go to war with California over the fuel rules in August. Manufacturers know a legal battle with the Golden State would likely take years to complete, leaving the industry completely in the dark as they attempt to develop vehicles that could be affected by the final verdict.

California is already suing the EPA for advancing the proposal.

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40 Comments on “California Prepares Counteroffensive in Great American Gas War, Asks Automakers For Ammo...”

  • avatar

    Nothing stopping California from levying their own “gas guzzler” tax if they want to, they can self regulate. Then more people will leave the third world hell hole that California is turning into.

  • avatar

    California isn’t opposed to a uniform national standard. They just insist that it match theirs.

  • avatar

    “as one of it’s key tenants involves stripping California of its ability to self-regulate.”

    Tenants have a landlord. And the possessive is “its”. “it’s” is shorthand for “it is”.

    “as one of its key tenets involves stripping California of its ability to self-regulate.”

    There, fixed it for you.

    The word you are so laboriously searching for is “tenet”. Time for some reading. For greater world knowledge and intrinsic ability to spell, I recommend a series of good novels, professionally edited and some 30 year-old National Geographics, plus a recognized textbook on grammar and punctuation, 8th grade level. That way you will be able to call yourself a journo. I’m fed up with people with way too big an opinion and nothing with which to back it up, claiming typos. Those aren’t typos, they are errors.

  • avatar

    This should be fun to watch. There are engineering reasons why the Obama imposed MPG targets are not realistic if auto companies want to remain profitable. Sure, they can sell 100 MPGe electric cars at 15k a pop all day long if the goal is to make CARB happy.

    Any findings in this will of course be available to the Feds when the next round of grand standing starts.

  • avatar

    Is California still a part of US. I heard there is USMCA – free trade agreement between US, Mexico and California. Why CA negotiates with US again? Sorry, I lived under a rock lately.

    • 0 avatar

      Good question?

      I just read an LA times Op Ed and the writer referred to the other 49 states as the “lesser” states. So I guess californians begrudgingly consider themselves part of the union.

      Although every few years you see an effort to secede not to mention an effort to split the state up into liberal, libertarian and conservative fiefdoms.

      • 0 avatar

        What part of “It’s too expensive, too hard, can’t do it” does the ballbuster not understand?

        Most automakers including Toyota, can’t even achieve a 27 MPG average, Trump will freeze it at a hardly unattainable 37 MPG and CARB wants 47 MPG? Might as well make it 80 MPG.

        …”They never submitted any information…”
        …”They never asked for anything specific…”

        You approach the CARB no different than the Mafia. You wait for them to contact YOU.

        Clearly this whole thing is all about the CARB demanding licence to extort billions yearly from automaker’s future CAFE fines. It wouldn’t surprise me if the CARB is otherwise about to be killed off by a near bankrupt CA.

        • 0 avatar

          that is just a lie….automakers could but wont..

          Extortion? More like pulling their own head out of their ass.

          Like segregation, suffrage, abortion, same-sex marriage and guns… the wrong side always loses….and California is always on the right side…

          • 0 avatar

            Are you serious? Forgot to put in the LOL? If automakers didn’t mind taking a tremendous loss, yes anything can be done. Yes, all subcompacts, pure electrics and hybrids, despite very low, mainstream demand and not many would be sold.

            Educate yourself. CAFE fines are relatively small for a very good reason. This isn’t about cleaner air, it’s about the money.

            Extorted, forced, leveraged, call it what you want.

            All though they don’t like having to pay it, like the gas guzzler tax, automakers can easily afford the fines, verse having to do “the right thing”, not to mention the worst offenders are very profitable, 4Runner, F-series, Armada, Navigator, Suburban, LR/Jag, Porsche, Merc, BMW, etc.

            But added up, that’s still billions of dollars in fines annually to be collected from automakers, while they go right on ahead selling poor MPG vehicles as usual.

            If this isn’t racketeering by CA, what is?

        • 0 avatar

          …”They never submitted any information…”
          …”They never asked for anything specific…”

          And of course the fact is that they were not allowed to submit any information nor were they asked for anything specific.

          Before the time came to review the standards, which was when the mfgs were supposed to be able to submit information, be asked for specifics, or ask for specific things Obama imposed the regulations as a last dig before leaving office.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic


        So one op-Ed writer in the LA Times represents the views of around 40 million people?

        I see contempt for CA expressed all the time. That doesn’t mean every non-CA resident shares them.

        • 0 avatar

          @ healthy skpetic

          Its not just a single Op-Ed. There is a generally condescending tone to almost every article I read when it invovles national politics or the state itself.

          As for the 40 million inhabitants I’m sure there are plenty of humble californians and I’ve met a few and they’ve been pretty cool so no I don’t see California as some sort of monolithic entity (ergo my comment about certain interst looking to split the state into two or more new states).

          On the other hand I dont see any other state that is so overtly secessionist either. Not Texas – not Vermont (and those cats want to be Canadian so bad it hurts) nor the states that were collectively part of the Southern Conferacy depsite a number of drooling slack jawed knuckle draggin troglodytes absolutely masturbating to the idea that the “south will rise again”.

          Personally I dont have a dig against Californian or Californians but what I read and see is a fairly consistent tone from interwebz commentariate as well as the paper which is probably playing to thier base so I can’t help but think that isnt some fringe attitude either.

          • 0 avatar

            re: “On the other hand I dont see any other state that is so overtly secessionist either. ”

            On what basis are you making that statement? Google searches? Fox News?

            I’m a 65-year-old native Californian (fourth generation). I previously lived in the SF Bay Area for 35 years and have recently moved back to the Central Valley to attend to elderly parents. In the Bay, the topic of conversation is, in order:

            1) Traffic
            2) Housing costs
            3) Traffic

            In the CV, the topics are:

            1) Water
            2) The almond harvest
            3) Water

            Not once, in my 65+ years living in California, have I heard the topic of succeeding from the Union broached in any conversation. Doing google searches on fringe topics by anybody with an agenda hardly makes you an authority. I submit that, unless you currently live in California and have, as have I, lived here your entire life you have no business telling others what Californians think or what they want to do.

            Since this is an automotive site, I’ll come back to topic and submit the following:

            I personally own and maintain the following:

            – a 1946 Chevy two-ton truck restored by my father that we occasionally use for farm duties
            – a 1955 Thunderbird
            – a 1956 Austin-Healey 100M (one of 640 ‘special editions’ modified by the Donald Healey Motor Company)
            – a 1965 Mustang convertible originally bought by an old-time Hollywood celebrity
            – a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000
            – a 1996 Ford Ranger
            – a 2000 Lincoln LS (the folks’ car)
            – a 2008 Mustang GT Bullitt Edition

            None of the cars are subject to annual inspections (but I take it upon myself to make sure they are running properly on good rubber and are reliable and as safe as old iron can be). None of the cars older than ’68 are subject to smog inspections; I just did the Ranger for $58 and an hour of my time. The older cars–the Mustang, T-Bird, the Healeys, but especially the old Chevy truck–draw nothing but approving looks and comments and thumbs-ups (the other day, we got a thumbs-up for the Chevy truck from a CHP officer). On average, the cars cost about $200/year to register–no questions asked–and insurance on the older cars usually has mileage restrictions (insurance company policy, not California’s), but otherwise I am free to do what I want when and where I want with my vehicles (short of modifying the smog equipment on the newer cars).

            Yes, it’s a ‘fringe attitude.’ If you don’t live here, you don’t know squat–you’re just another ‘interned authority.’

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic


      >> “Why CA negotiates with US again?”

      Um, states rights? 10th Amendment? We live in a federation. This isn’t the first time federal and state laws have clashed, nor will it be the last.

      • 0 avatar

        But they already negotiated USMCA. Why CA even cares about US regarding getting rid of ICE vehicles? Thinking that ICE cars will be still around in 20 years is delusional. Process has already started nothing can stop it now. I cannot even imagine buying another ICE vehicle – it sounds so anachronistic, so 20th century. Electric cars are so much better in every aspect but people still foolishly resist EVs for no good reason.

  • avatar

    Whatever is proposed will never be enough as California will keep moving the goal posts.

  • avatar

    California is likely going to be much better positioned for the next administration.

    The government is almost powerless to stop them from throwing their weight around.

  • avatar

    How much of the human sourced greenhouse gases in California would be reduced if they shipped back all the illegals? Think of those millions of illegals breathing out CO2 24/7/365, driving around in old cars, cooking tamales over an open flame, etc., which generates billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year – why isn’t California talking about this huge source of emissions?

    • 0 avatar

      How about keeping your ugly thoughts to yourself?

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic


      None would be saved. You’re just displacing emissions.

      Glad to see you don’t breath out CO2 24/7/365 yourself, though. Or drive a car. Or cook over an open flame.

      • 0 avatar

        skeptic – that is the whole point. The oil and coal is going to get burned anyway, it is just a matter of whether it is in relatively clean California or dirty Mexico or China. Where do you think California gets a lot of their power for recharging EVs – its from coal/gas fired plants in neighboring states. What about the emissions from all the businesses that move from California to avoid the state’s crazy environmental regulations – does the now offshore production in China or new factory in business friendly Texas actually reduce total emissions?

  • avatar

    The automakers easily figured out that the people who are most vulnerable to marketing are also the same people who have the least regard for other people and the environment. Combine the two and we have the automakers profiting most from the the most excessive cars, suv’s and trucks.

    These people then form a political constituency to continue wasting their money, in the name of freedom and their need to impress others. They depict electrified vehicles as unaffordable while handing $10,000 profit per pickup to the manufacturers and spending still more for fuel.

    • 0 avatar

      You tell em Brand Loyalty – damn deplorable people go around buying the wrong vehicles that actually generate “dirty” profits for automakers and oil companies and jobs/wages/dividends for their employees and pension funds. If only we had a dictatorship run by some enlightened soul such as you, the government could then force the people to buy the correct “clean” cars that will save the planet and perhaps even bankrupt some of those dirty automakers and oil companies.

      • 0 avatar

        So you believe that the entire multi-billion dollar business of marketing is ineffective and therefore wasted? If marketing works, how do you square that with complete freedom of choice?

        Do you believe that if car makers sold only small expensive efficient cars, people would stop buying cars?

        Civilized societies have lots of laws besides trivial car mileage regulations. Are you an anarchist?

        • 0 avatar

          Marketing is about finding out what people want and then finding a way to profitably provide it to them. Marketing ISN’T trying to trick or fool people into buying things the government or environmentalists or other do-gooders say they should buy, but otherwise wouldn’t want. High profits are built on strong preference and low costs. Big cars and trucks don’t cost much more to design or build than small cars, but most people are willing to pay a lot extra to get the extra size and power they like, hence big cars equal big profits.

          If you think “big brother” should force everyone to buy a certain type of product “for their own good”, then you are on your way to Communism – ask the good people of North Korea and Venezuela how that is working out.

  • avatar

    Duaney: You think anyone wants to move to the depressed, opioid-ravaged, small-population states, like KY or WV?
    stingray65: Automakers don’t want to have to redo mileage standards in just 2 years, with federal administration changes.

    • 0 avatar

      vehic1 – you are dreaming – there won’t be any administration change until as least January 2025. Americans haven’t yet gotten tired of winning.

      • 0 avatar

        Jerry Brown will be the next American president in 2020. It’s about time for grown up to take power.

      • 0 avatar

        Winning? Well, let’s see. I just bought cedar shingle that are now $24 a box more thanks to Canadian lumber tariffs. Same thing for the A/C equipment I just bought. I no longer can deduct state and local taxes. I see a stolen SCOTUS seat, and another filled by a person who went on a highly partisan tirade. I see good regulations being removed in order to enrich the already rich. I see a looming deficit that will likely be plugged by gutting social security. I see rising sea levels that threaten my family’s future. I see our constitution being stress tested, and weakening. Wonder why T-Rump is so bullish on Kavanugh? After all, the dirtbags at the Federalist Society have dozens of hyper conservatives to choose from – but Kavanugh will be seated to vote on the so called “double jeapordy” case which will mean T-Rump’s pardons on a federal level can protect the scum on the state level. More obstruction of justice.

        Winning? Hardly unless one is super rich, delusional, or both. The Blue Wave is coming unless the Democrats find a way to screw it up. But hey, if ripping crying kids from their mother is winning, I guess you are right.

        • 0 avatar

          Golden, dems never had a blue wave, and this bs the left pulled with Kavanaugh has energized the right like never before, you keep believing your conspiracy theories and what your media tells you. But anyone that actually watched the Kavanaugh hearings and didn’t just regurgitate what they heard from the news – is pi****d like never before. The red wave about to happen is going to make 2016 look like child’s play.

          • 0 avatar

            Hummer, ask yourself this question. Regardless of what was said about him and what you think of it, do you think his partisan tirade speaks of his ability to render decisions in an unbiased manner? He is a member of the highest court in the land and is required to be able to separate personal position to render decisions. His outburst says, no he is not.

            If you think this has energized the right, you probably don’t pay any attention to the left because the anger, outrage, and disgust is boiling over – this year I party vote across the line, even if the Democrat is a baby killer. I haven’t been privy to any conspiracy theories and I have watched the hearings. I don’t care that he was a privileged Frat boy and that he had a drinking problem in school. I do have a problem with his inability to maintain his cool under pressure and to spew bs about political trash.

            You think it was hard for him? Think of what Ford endured – and did so out of civic duty. I guarantee you would have run with your tail between your legs.

          • 0 avatar

            The one I actually feel badly for in all of this is Chief Justice John Roberts.

            1. Justice Roberts actually cares about the reputation of the court and if the American people view it as non-partisan.
            2. Roberts probably knows 2 dozen judges with solid conservative credentials but without the baggage.

          • 0 avatar

            His outbursts? Have you lost your mind? This man was falsely accused of raping a woman who provided no evidence to support her claim. Then he was dragged through mud by several horrible people. He has every right to act the way he did, I just hope he comes after her and puts her in jail for the rest of her miserable life for what she did.

            Walk away movement is bigger than ever, and democrats are poised to lose very big this election. You have a bunch of Soros paid shills running around with pre-made signs – astroturfing faux hate does not equate to energizing your party bud.
            Telling Kavanaugh he is guilty until proven innocent, as Emmitt Hill was, is telling every man, every mother, every sister, every individual in this country that any woman can claim a man raped her without any evidence and (according to dems) must be believed.

            That’s a scary precedence and has awaken people that either were never going to vote, and those on the left that see the left going to such an extreme that they want off.

            This election is going to send a message that Americans are done being bullied by the left.

        • 0 avatar

          “this year I party vote across the line, even if the Democrat is a baby killer”
          I think this should tell ANYONE with a shred of common sense or civility what kind of “people” the lefties are. Disgusting soulless sheep who parrot what they are told to say, and think.

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