Dems push more automakers to join Calif. fuel economy deal

Source: By Sean Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, August 16, 2019

A group of House Democrats is urging General Motors Co. and other leading automakers to join the four car manufacturers that have broken with the Trump administration and signed on to a deal with California to keep improving vehicle fuel economy.

“It is obvious that the momentum, both domestic and international, is leading us toward cleaner and more efficient cars of the future,” Rep. Doris Matsui of California and seven other lawmakers said in a letter sent today to 14 companies, including GM, Toyota Motor Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. “We urge all automakers to come to the table and work towards pragmatic solutions that will better protect the planet while preventing years of litigation and economic uncertainty.”

Matsui is a co-chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition; the other seven signers are also members. The new round of letters follows a similar series sent last week to the same automakers by 30 senators led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (E&E News PM, Aug. 6).

Under the compromise deal announced last month with the California Air Resources Board, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG and BMW of North America all agreed to improve the fuel efficiency of their cars and light trucks by 3.7% annually, with a target of attaining an average of about 51 mpg by model year 2026.

While the compromise target is less ambitious than the Obama-era goal of an average of 54.5 mpg under laboratory conditions by that point, it would move far beyond the Trump administration’s plan to keep requirements at 37 mpg through 2026.

The compromise “is an important alternative to the administration’s proposal to gut public health protection, reduce climate pollution and create regulatory uncertainty for automakers,” Matsui and her colleagues wrote. Their outreach was first reported by Politico. While dated yesterday, the letters were sent to the 14 companies today, a Matsui spokesman said.

Other recipients were Hyundai Motor Co., Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC, Kia Motors Corp., Aston Martin, Mazda Motor Corp., Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Porsche AG, Subaru and Volvo Cars. While none has so far announced it is signing on to the agreement, “we’re in discussions with multiple car companies responding to questions about technical and legal issues,” Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, said this morning. Young declined to give an exact number or name the companies.

Asked for comment last week on the senators’ letter, GM spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the company was on a path that included “continuously improving fuel economy and our commitment to an all-electric future.” In an email today, Ginivan said she had no updates.

Also signing the letters sent today were Democratic Reps. Gerald Connolly of Virginia, Paul Tonko of New York, Mike Quigley of Illinois, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, A. Donald McEachin of Virginia, Alan Lowenthal of California and Chellie Pingree of Maine.