A last-minute push by automakers appears unlikely to sway the Trump administration from abandoning President Barack Obama’s signature climate policy to improve mileage standards for cars and light trucks, two government officials said Friday.
The administration’s plan to freeze federal fuel-efficiency requirements for six years and end California’s authority to set its own standards has injected uncertainty into the auto market and raised the prospect of a drawn-out legal fight between federal officials and the nation’s biggest state.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are poised to finalize a proposal this summer that would set federal car standards at roughly 37 miles per gallon, rather than raising them to nearly 51 miles per gallon for 2025 models. The rule would also revoke California’s existing waiver to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has sanctioned for decades.
On Thursday, 17 U.S. and foreign firms sent a letter to both President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), urging them to “resurrect” talks to avoid harming the industry and American consumers. They warn that only a nationally agreed-upon set of rules would avert “an extended period of litigation and instability, which could prove as untenable as the current program.”
But White House officials rebuffed the automakers’ request Thursday, saying there was no prospect of further negotiation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The two government officials, who were briefed on the discussions, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.
“As we acknowledged earlier this year, CARB failed to put forward a productive alternative, and we are moving forward to finalize a rule with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner and more affordable vehicles,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere in an email.