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article imageTrump's rollback of auto pollution rules hits a dead end

By Karen Graham     Aug 20, 2019 in Politics
The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more companies from joining the other side.
In July, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda reached a deal with California to increase gas mileage standards and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, setting a national standard, and a national goal in line with Obama era emission rules.
In the meantime, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors were all called to the White House to meet with a senior advisor to Trump, who tried to get the automakers to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks, reports the New York Times.
However, it has been learned that Mercedes-Benz may be the next company to agree to California's voluntary emissions rules, something that will enrage Trump even further than he is right now. California and 13 other states plan to enforce their current, stricter emissions regulations. Those states may also sue the Trump administration.
The 2019 Ford Explorer
The 2019 Ford Explorer
Ford Motors
Currently, the EPA and the NHTSA are proposing to freeze fuel economy requirements at 2020 levels through 2026. That would allow cars to travel on average about 35 mpg rather than the 50 mpg mandated by President Obama. The agencies are also proposing to revoke California's Clean Air Act waiver for greenhouse gases.
Engadget is reporting that a sixth automaker is now considering joining the California deal. While it has not been confirmed yet, it is believed either Toyota, Fiat Chrysler or GM will pledge to follow stricter emissions standards for at least the next four years.
If this latest news proves to be correct, it will mean the six automakers would account for more than 40 percent of all cars sold in the US, significantly weakening Trump's emission rollback plan.
Take a look at the Mercedes-Benz EQC
Take a look at the Mercedes-Benz EQC
Why Trump's plan is in disarray
Trump is so focused on doing away with President Barack Obama's environmental regulations that he fails to see the bigger, global picture - a sure sign he is not the businessman he claims to be.
Bloomberg succinctly points out that it is the global picture, where shifts among the biggest car markets make divergent standards a problem. Twenty years ago, the world's automakers more or less went with U.S. standards for vehicles, while the European Union's standards were considered out of line.
A Volkswagen "Beetle"  the final edition of the iconic car  is pictured inside the factory...
A Volkswagen "Beetle", the final edition of the iconic car, is pictured inside the factory in Puebla, Puebla State, Mexico, on July 10, 2019
Global concerns about the environment and particularly GHG emissions have changed all that, with more and more of the world's economies opting for the EU's stricter standards. This leaves the Trump administration as the big outlier now.
As a matter of fact, nearly all the global supply chains are opting for unified platforms and modular designs that can allow most of their output to follow a similar pattern. So while companies generally like lenient and simple to follow regulations, they also want rules to be moving in a consistent direction.
“The trend will not likely reverse,” energy analyst Philip Verleger wrote in a note to clients Monday. “The Trump administration’s failure to compromise with California on fuel economy will probably accelerate it.”
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