- at least in court, the majority of automakers now support the epa's decision to propose a single national standard that would lower targets set more than a decade ago by the obama administration.
- four automakers have come out publicly in favor of higher targets set by california and 12 other states.
- the epa's ruling is still not yet final.
automakers have officially divided their support for dueling vehicle-emissions laws set by the federal government and california. in an appellate court filing on monday, no fewer than 10 major automakers came out in support of a single federal standard that president trump and the environmental protection agency have proposed since last year.
ferrari, fiat chrysler, general motors, hyundai, kia, mazda, mitsubishi, nissan, toyota, and subaru have all stated they want what was termed under the obama administration as "one national policy." this was the merging of three formerly separate fuel-economy regulations set by california, epa, and the national highway traffic safety administration (nhtsa) in 2010, which set the fuel-economy targets the trump administration is trying to backtrack. in effect, the automakers are challenging california, more than a dozen states, and various environmental groups fighting to keep the original obama-era emissions targets.
since california filed an appeal with 16 other states and various environmental groups in may 2018—intended to nullify the epa's proposed changes to fuel-economy mandates for the 2021–2026 model years—automakers have quietly filed motions to dismiss the appeal through their two major lobbies, global automakers and the auto alliance. on friday, a d.c. circuit judge dismissed the states' appeal since the epa's rules are not yet finalized and thus not under the court's jurisdiction. that's one feather in the cap for automakers.
now they've formed a new group, the coalition for sustainable automotive regulation, and latched onto another lawsuit to support nhtsa. as they defend the epa, which wants to revoke california's right to set its own greenhouse-gas standards and allow 12 other states to share its zero-emissions mandate, the automakers think nhtsa may get the final word.
“with our industry facing the possibility of multiple, overlapping, and inconsistent standards that drive up costs and penalize consumers, we had an obligation to intervene,” said john bozzella, the coalition's spokesman and president of global automakers, in a statement.
bmw, ford, honda, and volkswagen have teamed with california since july. they're also under criminal investigation for potentially violating anti-trust laws, as the four automakers had agreed privately to meet fleet averages of roughly 50 mpg by 2026. the agreement was voluntary and no charges have been filed.
according to the coalition's filing monday, the automakers hope to prove that nhtsa will have final authority to "preempt state ghg and zev standards" whether or not california and the epa come to an agreement. seven states also added a motion to the same lawsuit in support of the automakers.
“the decision to intervene in the lawsuit is about how the standard should be applied, not what the standard should be,” said bozzella. “by participating we ensure the concerns of consumers, autoworkers, retailers, and manufacturers are heard in this dispute.”
but the decision will in fact change the fuel-economy standard if courts deny the appeals, the epa finalizes its ruling, and the epa can prove the new standard under trump doesn't contradict its earlier ruling rushed during the final months of the obama presidency. it is also an about-face to public statements made by most of the automakers, which signed a letter to trump in june urging him to renegotiate with california. only a year ago, gm president mark reuss criticized the epa's proposal and called for the government to mandate electric vehicles nationwide. as we've said before, this is truly a bizarre fight.