President Trump announced this week that he would officially revoke California’s authority to set its own fuel economy standards, arguing that the move to a single standard would provide safer cars at a lower price point, while also creating more jobs.
“Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business,” Trump tweeted.
California’s fuel economy standards are stricter than those set by federal regulators. The Trump administration’s move to set a single national standard would revoke a waiver issued by the EPA in 2013, which allowed the state to set its own rules.
While some automakers have supported relaxed fuel economy standards, others have argued that higher fuel economy standards will make their cars more competitive on a global level, and thus prevent job losses.
In a statement, the interim CEO and President of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Dave Schwietert, weighed in on the issue.
“Automakers support year-over-year increases in fuel economy standards that align with marketplace realities, and we support one national program as the best path to preserve good auto jobs, keep new vehicles affordable for more Americans and avoid a marketplace with different standards,” Schwietert said.
GM has been forced to walk a fine line in the matter. “Our focus remains on working with all parties on a solution that would involve a 50-state solution and a national electric vehicle program,” GM has stated previously, also citing its goal of “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”
The latest move follows an antitrust investigation from the Justice Department examining an agreement between California, BMW, Ford, Honda and VW, in which the state and four major automakers planned to circumvent Trump’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards.
“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” said EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler earlier this week at the National Automobile Dealers Association.
As expected, the revocation of California’s fuel economy standards waiver will be met with a flurry of legal challenges.
“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”
Thirteen states, including the District of Columbia, follow California’s lead with regard to more stringent fuel economy standards.