Trump to meet with automakers on push to relax efficiency rules

Trump to meet with automakers on push to relax efficiency rules
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE is meeting with executives from automakers Friday to discuss his administration’s push to relax fuel efficiency regulations.

Executives from 10 companies, including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Mercedes-Benz, are expected to join leaders from the Auto Alliance, Global Automakers and key Trump administration officials with the president, the White House said.

“President Trump looks forward to a productive meeting today with major automakers to discuss the Administration’s forthcoming rulemaking on Corporate Average Fuel Economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles. The president will hear from the automaker CEOs about the impact of the rulemaking on the auto industry and their efforts to negotiate a ‘National Program’ with the state of California,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement.


Automakers have been generally supportive of efforts so far by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ease the two related programs that regulate cars’ greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency, for which the Obama administration set aggressive targets through the 2026 model year.

But they do not want the administration to freeze the standards, with no future increases. A proposal leaked late last month said that officials are planning to freeze the rules in 2020.

“We’re hopeful that the slope continues to rise,” Auto Alliance President Mitch Bainwol, who will be in Friday’s meeting, told lawmakers earlier this week.

“We’re in favor of year-over-year fuel efficiency [increases],” he said.

Automakers also don’t want the Trump administration to roll back the rules to a degree that would cause California to pursue its own, separate standards, which about a dozen other states would follow.

The EPA is considering rescinding California’s ability to set its own standards, which would set off a lengthy legal battle that auto companies want to avoid.

Conservatives are pushing Trump to stick to his guns and freeze the efficiency and greenhouse gas standards.

“The current mandate, which you rightly seek to reform, compels automakers to design vehicles and fleets to meet the preferences of regulators — not consumers,” Trump’s presidential transition heads for the EPA, Department of Transportation and Energy Department wrote in a letter to him Thursday.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, are pushing Trump and the automakers to agree to keep the Obama standards.

“These standards are working exactly as they were designed to do — they are protecting our health and climate, driving innovation, saving Americans money at the gas pump, and reducing our reliance on oil. And you have been meeting these standards while enjoying record profits. They are truly a win-win,” a coalition of environmental groups wrote to the auto CEOs expected to attend the White House meeting.