A coalition of automakers led by General Motors (GM), Toyota and Fiat Chrysler are backing the Trump administration in the fight over whether federal regulators can preempt states in setting fuel efficiency standards.
The three companies are among automakers that have intervened in a petition filed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) authority to address fuel economy standards.
EDF’s petition, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was in response to the One National Program (ONP) Rule issued by NHTSA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September, which stripped California of a waiver that allowed the state to set tougher emissions standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks than the federal government. The state immediately sued, challenging the overturning of the waiver authorized by EPA in 2013.
But the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation and the Association of Global Automakers, which represent the three automakers and several others, wrote in their Oct. 28 intervention filing that the ONP Rule “provides vehicle manufacturers with the certainty that states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards. Regulatory simplicity and certainty are critical to the success of [intervenors’] members. For that reason, [intervenors] support the ONP Rule; were [EDF] to succeed, the manufacturers whom [intervenors] represent would suffer concrete injury.”
John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers, pointed out in a separate statement that the decision to intervene “is about how the standard should be applied, not what the standard should be. By participating we ensure the concerns of consumers, autoworkers, retailers, and manufacturers are heard in this dispute.”
The automakers’ intervention pits GM, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler against Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen, which had agreed in July to California’s emissions framework.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that by aligning with the Trump administration, “these companies are actively challenging the rights of states to set their own emissions standards and tackle the climate crisis. Instead of choosing the responsible path forged by four automakers and the state of California, one that will move us toward the cleaner, alternative fuel vehicles of the future, these companies have chosen to head down a dead-end road.”
In a statement, EDF President Fred Krupp called the move by GM, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler an “attack on states’ authority” to regulate vehicle pollution, adding that Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW “are working constructively to provide cleaner air, jobs and a stronger economy.”
FreightWaves previously reported that NHTSA’s ruling in September and subsequent petitions against it do not immediately impact heavy-duty trucks, which are regulated separately, according to the California Air Resources Board.