Would you like to receive climate news in your inbox? Sign up for Climate Fwd: our e-mail newsletter. in a setback against the Trump administration as it prepares to weaken national emissions standards and deprive states of their right to pass their own rules Four automakers – Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group of America and BMW of North America – have worked on a plan in Sacramento to drastically weaken the Obama era rules on global warming of vehicle pollution standards in California, the country's largest auto market. And on Thursday Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said he was "very confident" that more automakers would join the deal in the coming days.
Sprecher for the White House and E.P.A. did not comment on the deal.
Environmental policy experts called it a strong blow to Trump's efforts to lift one of the Obama administration's core policies to combat climate change. "I think this is a breakthrough," said Daniel Lashof, director of the United States of the World Resources Institute, a research organization. "This shows that state leadership is indispensable. From there, the leadership is currently in the US on climate.
The E.P.A. and Transportation Department are expected to present a new plan this summer that eliminates the Obama era, which requires passenger cars to reach an average mileage of about 52.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This provision would have significantly reduced the vehicle emissions of the planet – warming of greenhouse gas pollution.
The new Trump Rule, which is expected to lower this standard to approximately 60 km / h, is also intended to revoke the statutory authority of California and other states to set their own, more stringent, state-level standards.
Under the terms of the new contract with California, the four automakers, who together make up about 30 percent of the US auto market, would adopt a looser standard than the original Obama rule. Rather than achieving average fuel consumption of 52.5 miles per gallon by 2025, they would need to reach a standard of about 51 miles per gallon by 2026.
The agreement would also give automakers more leeway in meeting fuel economy standards, other means such as earning loans for fuel-efficient technology, and encouraged other automakers to join the agreement.
In a joint statement, the four automakers said the agreement with California would lead to "much-needed regulatory certainty." The deal would enable them to "meet federal and state requirements with a single national fleet and avoid a patchwork of regulations while continuing to deliver a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," they said.
Mr. Trump has supported his plan to return federal pollution taxes as a gift to the auto industry, but the automakers said it could actually harm them by creating regulatory uncertainties as California and other states claimed the legal right to set their own standards and to stand trial.
Thirteen other states are already living up to California environmental standards and are expected to backfire in court if the Trump administration revokes their rights national pollution standards could divide the US auto market and force them to produce and sell completely different types of vehicles in different states.
Last month, 17 automakers sent a letter to Mr. Trump stating that his plan to weaken emissions standards was threatening to curtail profits and create "unsustainable" instability in an important manufacturing sector.
In response, a White House spokesman blamed California and said the state had "proposed no productive alternative."
After this letter, several car companies turned to California officials and asked if they could work on a joint project separate deal. "It quickly became clear that they were ready to sit with us after following this letter and the government had not responded," said Mary D. Nichols, California's best clean air cleaner.
"We had several companies that came to us," she said. "We hope and expect that we will see other companies in the coming days."
Public rejection of the president's plan involves risks for automakers. The White House has solicited its support for its move, and some officials have said privately that they fear that industry criticism could cause the President to retaliate by levying tariffs on car imports.
That too could be painful, as many cars and components are now manufactured across the border or partially assembled in Mexico or Canada.
While two of the three major US automakers, Ford and GM, signed the contract June letter to the White House, the third, Fiat Chrysler, not.
Gloria Bergquist, Vice President of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, wrote in an e-mail statement: "Uncertainty over lengthy litigation is a major concern for a long-running industry, so much capital investment, and 10 million dependent American automatic paychecks. Individual companies may have different perspectives on how best to achieve greater security. "
Some environmental groups criticized the slower pace and widened the gaps that the deal brought to automakers. "This means more pollution, less pump savings and a bad precedent for future standards," said Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign at the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based charitable group.
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