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White House pushes car manufacturers to restore fuel efficient rollback

A technician inserts a probe into an exhaust pipe of a vehicle during a routine checkup in San Francisco in September. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg News) Brady Dennis Reporter focuses on environmental policy and public health issues March 7 at 5:48 pm Trump officials thought they were doing the automotive industry service when they decided to Freeze gas mileage. But car dealers are not so safe. To convince them, White House officials have launched an intense lobbying campaign as they try to support a proposal they hope to complete this summer. The rule, which would undermine the most ambitious climate policy adopted during Barack Obama's time in office, is sure to create a legal conflict with California and 13 other states planning to continue with stricter exhaust standards. In two separate discussions in less than three weeks, the White House has urged major car companies to approve the administration's plan to freeze fuel standards for cars and smaller pickup trucks between model year 2020 and 2026. But domestic and foreign car manufacturers have continued to raise concerns about the proposal, dubbed the Safer Reasonable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) rule, as California and other states plan to require vehicles in their states to meet stricter emission limits. The activity flow came after the White House interrupted discussions with California on February 21: Government officials said the administration never actually offered a compromise proposal that could serve as the basis for a real negotiation. California received a Clean Air Act exemption to…


A technician inserts a probe into an exhaust pipe of a vehicle during a routine checkup in San Francisco in September. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg News)

Trump officials thought they were doing the automotive industry service when they decided to Freeze gas mileage. But car dealers are not so safe.

To convince them, White House officials have launched an intense lobbying campaign as they try to support a proposal they hope to complete this summer. The rule, which would undermine the most ambitious climate policy adopted during Barack Obama’s time in office, is sure to create a legal conflict with California and 13 other states planning to continue with stricter exhaust standards.

In two separate discussions in less than three weeks, the White House has urged major car companies to approve the administration’s plan to freeze fuel standards for cars and smaller pickup trucks between model year 2020 and 2026. But domestic and foreign car manufacturers have continued to raise concerns about the proposal, dubbed the Safer Reasonable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) rule, as California and other states plan to require vehicles in their states to meet stricter emission limits.

The activity flow came after the White House interrupted discussions with California on February 21: Government officials said the administration never actually offered a compromise proposal that could serve as the basis for a real negotiation. California received a Clean Air Act exemption to set its own emission standards half a century ago, but the Trump administration is ready to challenge its exemption as part of the package run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to complete

Bloomberg News and Reuters reported some details about the administration’s lobbying campaign this week.

A white house official, who refused to speak on the record, said the administration expects broad support for its government when it is ready. Administration officials say the nation needs to adjust emissions targets because consumers prefer larger and less fuel efficient vehicles than regulators who originally foreseen and keeping them in place will encourage Americans to drive older, less secure vehicles.

Both the administration and the critics agree that the reconstruction will lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions in connection with climate change. In a draft environmental assessment of the proposal, the NHTSA suggested that there and other strategies would keep the world on an emission pathway that could raise global temperatures by 7 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the century. A new analysis by State Energy and the Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law project that, if completed, would give the administration’s proposal between 16 million and 37 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2025, corresponding to the annual emissions of more than 9 million. vehicle.

Auto companies asked Trump to reconsider federal fuel efficiency standards within a few days of taking his office, a point management officer raised during a February 21 conference call and a White House meeting on Friday with representatives of Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

“We do it for you, we deregulate the sector for you”, it is like a senior official who spoke about anonymity to discuss private conversation puts It. “We hope you come behind us.”

Fiat Chrysler expressed support for the administration’s proposal at the Friday meeting according to two people who spoke on terms of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. GM and Ford officials were less talented.

Asked about the ongoing discussions, Ford’s president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, said in a statement that the company was “disappointed” that California and federal regulatory authorities could not find a compromise on future fuel efficiency standards.

“A coordinated program with all stakeholders lies in Ford’s customers best and is the best way forward for achieving carbon emissions reductions and supporting critical investments in new technologies,” the statement said. “The automotive industry needs legal certainty, not protracted disputes.”

In a statement, a Fiat spokesman said the company supports the “market-world” mileage targets and notes that gas prices are low and that larger vehicles are still popular with consumers.

A GM spokeswoman confirmed that a representative attended the Friday meeting and said the company appreciated that the White House contacted it.

The Auto Alliance, whose members produce more than 70 percent of cars and light trucks in the United States, has continued to express concern about the administration’s approach. Auto Alliance spokesman Gloria Bergquist said in an interview on Thursday that the Group supports “fuel economy growth” compared to the previous year and a nationwide standard covering California and its affiliated states. Every rule that failed to achieve it, she said, would lead to disputes and force companies to sell another mix of vehicles in parts of the country.

“Year’s disputes are not helpful. It will be difficult for industry, and ultimately it will be bad for customers, as it can increase the price of cars,” says Bergquist. “It is still a negotiation, and it is not done until it is clear. “

The American Honda Motor – which publicly challenged the proposed rule issued in August with Ford – echoed these concerns.

” Our position has not changed and we are still calling on the parties to negotiate, says Robert Bienenfeld, a deputy vice president of Honda, in an email.

The administration explores the idea of ​​increasing the fuel efficiency standard between 0.5 percent and 1 percent a year to address the industry’s call for annual increases, according to several people being informed of the plan. However, it would still be short of existing federal standards. The Obama rule would have strengthened the average float to nearly 51 miles per gallon by 2025; It would reach 37 mpg in 2025 under the Trump proposal.

Mary D. Nichols, president of the California Air Resources Board, showed some sympathy for car manufacturers in an interview Thursday. She said California’s regulators had been clear all the time that they intended to stick to the ever-increasing fuel efficiency standards agreed by the federal government and the automotive industry during the Obama administration.

“They had clearly intended to get some flexibility built into the enforcement of existing regulations, and perhaps a little more time and ability to use some of the credits they had built up over time,” she told car manufacturers. “And now, now they are facing years of dispute. It’s an unfortunate situation, but as I said, it’s not our problem.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, said in a statement that car companies should publicly renounce the government’s proposal.

“The automotive industry should think twice – and then for a third or fourth time – before attaching the future to a proposal that is so legally flawed that it will surely be reversed by the courts immediately,” Carper said. “Costly disputes and legal uncertainty are completely avoidable. There is a clear agreement between the administration and the state of California, and the automotive industry should be in arms until this agreement is settled. “

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report .

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