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Ford pushes automakers to abandon Trump in suit challenging California emissions standards

Ford pushes automakers to abandon Trump in suit challenging California emissions standards
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Ford Motor Company cited the incoming Biden administration as it encouraged other automakers to drop their involvement in a suit challenging California's right to set more rigorous tailpipe emissions standards.

“During the last year and a half of the Trump Administration, we essentially split into two camps,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of Americas and International Markets Group, wrote in a letter to other automakers obtained by The Hill. 

“With the election settled, the preemption fight is now, at least for the next set of years, essentially moot," he said. "The more relevant issue is thus the question of the standards.”

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As the Trump administration rolled back ambitious mileage targets set for automakers under the Obama administration, it also revoked the waiver that for decades allowed California to craft tougher emissions standards that were in turn adopted by more than a dozen other states.

While numerous automakers joined in the suit to back President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE, other automakers signed a deal with California agreeing to meet emissions standards set closer to those under Obama.

Automakers have long sought one national standard, something Galhotra said in the letter would have “enormous value for the industry.” 

“The Biden Administration will not let the Trump standards stand, and either by way of litigation and/or a regulatory reboot, the new team will move in a different, more stringent direction. And they will do so with California integrated in the effort, whether that is formal or informal,” he wrote.

Ford’s letter comes ahead of a meeting of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing auto manufacturers, and after an announcement from General Motors that they would leave the suit challenging California’s right to a waiver.

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“To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us," GM said last week. 

In March, the Trump administration finalized standards asking automakers to craft fleets reaching about 40 miles per gallon by 2026, bringing mileage below what automakers have said is possible for them to achieve. Those standards are now being challenged in another suit.

Five automakers, including Ford, have since signed agreements with California committing to reach mileage closer to the 55 mpg by 2025 required under Obama.