December 1st, 2020 by Steve Hanley
Last week, General Motors did a complete about face and announced it will no longer support the Tramp administration’s campaign to strip California of its special exemption under the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards than are more rigorous than federal standards. CEO Mary Barra said in a letter to the heads of several environmental groups that her company now supports the California framework for exhaust emissions. That leaves just two major car companies — Toyota and FCA — out in the cold and still officially opposed to the rules promulgated by the California Air Resources Board.
According to Reuters, Ford has sent a letter to Toyota, FCA, and other automakers who are still opposing tougher emissions standards that urges them to get on board with the California standard before Joe Biden takes office in January. The companies were expected to discuss what steps they would take on the emissions issue at a trade association meeting on December 1.
Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Volvo, and BMW reached a voluntary agreement with California in July of last year to reduce vehicle emissions through the 2026 model years. That agreement set slightly lower limits than those put in place by the Obama administration and gave the companies longer to the new targets. Ford is suggesting the provisions of that agreement would make a useful framework for a new national standard. If they agree, that would avoid the car companies having to meet two different standards in the US market. A unified standard would save all the companies money. A Ford spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter but said the California agreement “should be the foundation for new regulations as the Biden administration considers stronger fuel economy standards in 2021.”
California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols told Reuters this month her state’s emissions agreement with automakers could serve as a “good template” for federal standards. Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said “the rest of the automakers should end their challenges to state authority and embrace the California framework as the first step in setting standards that get us to where we need to be.”
After the insanity of the past 4 years, a period of calm and rationality would be welcome by many both inside and outside the auto industry. The time for going backward to the 19th century is over and the time to address the future in a mature and constructive fashion has arrived.
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