President Donald Trump will make a presentation in Ypsilanti, Michigan today that focuses on an issue critical to US automakers — Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules. Just prior to the recent inauguration, the Environmental Protection Agency, in a surprise move, made a finding that the industry was capable of meeting the proposed CAFE target of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
That finding was part of a midterm review agreed to by the prior administration and the car companies but it was not supposed to occur before April of 2018. Pushing the finding ahead by 16 months angered many in the industry, who immediately began lobbying the incoming administration to undo the EPA’s decision.
An administration official speaking anonymously has told the automotive press the president will give automakers some of what they want but will not initiate an all out war with environmentalists and the California Air Resources Board.
Trump is expected to announce today that the original date to complete the EPA review process will be reinstated. The industry will now have until April, 2018 to convince EPA administrator Scott Pruitt that the proposed 2025 standards are not feasible. The source says that reopening the review process does not mean those standards will be weakened.
Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat who represents Michigan in Congress, says the automakers are not asking to significantly lower the goals they agreed to with the Obama administration in 2011. Instead, the reopening of the review process will allow all stakeholders to reach a "fresh consensus" on the standards.
“My goal is to bring permanent peace between California, Michigan and the rest of the country and have everybody working together toward strong fuel economy standards,” Dingell said. “That was the beauty of the process that President Obama established and the agreement that was reached.”
Mary Nichols, who heads CARB, said in a telephone interview with Automotive News, “We’re not going to refuse to participate in the newly reopened review process. We’ll be there and we’ll be active.”
That doesn't mean the administration and automakers should expect California to abandon its core principles. “We have the technical and legal ability to run a program that recognizes where electrification of vehicles is headed,” she said. “We’re trying to put together a mix of incentives and regulations to move the entire industry in this direction. This is what we’re going to do.”
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