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General Motors Feeling Pressure to Join CA Deal on Clean Car Standards

Soon after taking office, the Trump administration announced plans to weaken tailpipe emission and fuel-economy standards. (jppi/Morguefile)
Soon after taking office, the Trump administration announced plans to weaken tailpipe emission and fuel-economy standards. (jppi/Morguefile)
August 29, 2019

LANSING, Mich. – General Motors and other automakers are debating whether to join a deal to keep clean car standards high – an agreement between the state of California and VW, Ford, BMW and Honda.

The deal would conform closely to current Obama-era targets and would block a rollback being proposed by the Trump administration.

Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward, a trade group representing 6,000 Michigan companies, says the rollback would create uncertainty and ultimately cost auto industry jobs in Michigan.

"It's a bad idea, executed poorly,” he states. “For Trump it's a PR stunt. For the industry, it's years of litigation.

“It's going to have a bad impact on GM and Ford and Chrysler, and autoworkers in Michigan are going to pay a price."

The current federal standard calls for an average fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon by 2024, but Trump wants to freeze the standard at 2021 levels and undermine states' ability to require standards higher than those set by the EPA.

Automakers had pushed for the rollback, but many now are agreeing to keep the higher standards required by 14 states, which represent 110 million Americans – a big chunk of the U.S. car market.

Doyle warns that automakers that go along with Trump's plan to gut clean car standards could be left behind.

"Trying to fight 40 years of precedent is going to cause a lot of uncertainty, hurt short-term sales and, most important, this could hurt long-term investment and long-term profitability," he stresses.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor to carbon pollution, which causes climate change.

Disclosure: The Partnership Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI