Gas War: White House Preparing to Strip California of Regulatory Privileges, Report Claims

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

It’s not as if we anticipated any other outcome, but the White House is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards. According to Reuters, President Donald Trump met with senior officials in Washington on Thursday to discuss the administration’s proposal to roll back Obama-era standards through 2025 and potentially revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles.

Anonymous sources claimed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Office and Management and Budget director Russell Vought were in attendance.

Wheeler recently stated that no official decisions had been made about California’s ability to self-regulate, while also suggesting that the final draft of the rollback could be less extreme than the original proposal. Thursday’s meeting must have been pretty productive.

From Reuters:

On Tuesday, Wheeler told reporters the administration had not made a final decision to divide the rule into two parts.

Following the meeting, sources said the administration plans to move ahead in coming weeks to divide the final regulation and finalize first the portion dealing with preempting states before issuing the new yearly standards.

The EPA in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards.

Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012.

In the interim, the U.S. Justice Department will continue investigating whether Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda violated antitrust law by voluntarily agreeing to adopt California’s emission standards. Expect plenty of litigation to come from all of this, as California is unlikely to back down, plus a prolonged gas war.

[Image: Nithid Memanee/Shutterstock]

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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Sep 14, 2019

    @Art Vandelay--Well said, completely agree. Some of this is Trump looking for a fight which is how he operates. Let California and the states that follow California's standards do whatever they want. If a manufacturer decides to make vehicles that are compliant with all 50 states then that is their choice and if they don't care to sell in California then they do not have to comply with California regulations. Living in Kentucky I don't want to pay for California regulations unless the manufacturer makes vehicles compliant with California regulations for all 50 states that is still affordable. I am not going to lose any sleep over this especially since I do not live in California.

  • Sceptic Sceptic on Sep 16, 2019

    This discussion is full of vile racist hate against Trump. Majority of people can feel this kind of hate coming from the current Democratic party. Hate against Trump is hate against the choice of an average American voter. This is why Trump will win his second term.

    • See 1 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 18, 2019

      The only people to mention race in here at all are the Trump fans banging the drum about a "fifth column" of "illegals." Christ, you are too much. Can we please keep the nutty politics off the car blog?

  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.