30 senators urge automakers to join Calif. deal

Source: By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Thirty senators yesterday urged 14 automakers to buck President Trump and join a deal with California to improve fuel efficiency.

Led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the lawmakers sent a series of letters asking other car companies to join last month’s compromise between California and Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG and BMW of North America.

Under the terms of the compromise, the four automakers agreed to increase the fuel efficiency of their cars and light trucks by 3.7% each year. That stands to significantly undercut Trump’s rollback of Obama-era clean car standards (Greenwire, July 25).

“We call on you to join the recent agreement between California and Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America to continue progress toward producing less polluting vehicles,” the senators wrote in the letters.

“As representatives of states that signed the Nation’s Clean Car Promise, we believe that … joining this agreement would save consumers money, reduce emissions and provide regulatory certainty to the auto industry,” they added.

The letters were sent to General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., Jaguar, Kia Motors Corp., Aston Martin, Mazda Motor Corp., Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Porsche AG, Subaru and Volvo.

The lawmakers signing the missives included six presidential candidates: Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats.

Also lending their support were Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member Tom Carper of Delaware.

The compromise came after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the California Air Resources Board and major automakers that sell vehicles in the United States.

CARB spokesman Stanley Young told E&E News today that the agency had gotten calls from two other car companies since the deal was announced. He declined to specify which companies.

Asked for comment on the letters, General Motors spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said in an email: “General Motors is driving toward a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. As we have stated, the pathway includes continuously improving fuel economy and our commitment to an all-electric future.”

Environmentalists have generally lauded the compromise, although some have raised concern about its expansion of certain credits that they view as loopholes (Climatewire, July 26).