Trump explores negotiation with California on fuel economy standards for nation. The president met with top auto executives to discuss the standards and tasked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt to handle the communication with California officials.
The auto industry wants to relax the federal fuel economy standards, but don’t want a legal fight with California. Fight can create two different mileage standards in the U.S. It can force automakers to produce two versions of each of their vehicle models.
A Trump administration official said the two agencies discussed with California officials on the issue for several months. The Alliance for Automotive Manufacturers and Global Automakers said they appreciated Trump’s “openness to a discussion with California on an expedited basis.”
If California splits from the federal rule under consideration by the Trump administration, it likely would be joined by 12 states that follow its standards. 40 percent of U.S. new-vehicle sales would be made by them.
Automakers have been standing the Trump administration to revisit the fuel economy requirements. And said due to low gas prices, people are buying bigger vehicles.
Some environmental groups oppose any reduction in the standards. They said that reducing the standards will increase pollution and raise gasoline prices at the pump. Requirements now are lower for bigger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles for the Natural Resources Defense Council.