Automakers Ask Trump Transition Team to Consider Reforming Fuel Economy and Emissions Rules

Major automakers have sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump’s White House transition team asking to ease regulatory pressure from the Obama administration’s fuel economy and emissions rule.

The proposal letter, sent by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers yesterday, asks for a hold to be put on the ongoing midterm evaluation of the Obama administration’s 2025 fuel economy and greenhouse rules calling for 54.5 mpg. Members of the association representing major automakers would like to wait until Trump’s administration can “lead efforts” with regulators and automakers on “a pathway forward” for the final four years of the rules.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules, which become increasingly stringent in the 2017 model year, are considered to be a “substantial challenge” for the industry, according to the alliance’s letter. While automakers have expressed support for the efficiency and environmental goals of the program, the industry is concerned about the timing and costs of the rules, which will require billions of dollars in investment.

The fuel economy and emissions proposal has been one of a series of recommendations submitted to the Trump transition team aimed at streamlining the auto industry’s regulatory obligations.

“We live at a moment where technology and change are swamping the regulatory capacity to manage our emerging reality. Reform is imperative,” Alliance CEO Mitch Bainwol said in the letter, obtained by Automotive News.

The Trump administration will start during a critical juncture point in the fuel economy and emissions standards. The next step in the midterm evaluation is expected to take place in midyear 2017, when a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator will likely propose whether the standards are appropriate or should be changed. A final ruling on the fuel economy standards is due by April 2018.

Trump himself has vowed a broad review of existing regulations that threaten U.S. jobs and a moratorium on all new regulations.

Soon after election day, a Trump policy adviser issued a statement to media on a review of the fuel economy and emissions standards by the new administration.

“The Trump Administration will complete a comprehensive review of all federal regulations. This includes a review of the fuel economy and emissions standards to make sure they are not harming consumers or American workers,” said John Mashburn, a senior policy adviser for Trump, reported by Automotive News. “It is important to remember that this particular program was first put in place as a way to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, not for purposes of global warming regulation. Mr. Trump will be focused on bringing jobs, including auto manufacturing, back to the U.S., and making sure that government policies are in the national interest.”

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The Alliance has called for a comprehensive review of all regulatory and policy actions by the Obama administration since September 1. This would include the Transportation Department’s guidelines for autonomous vehicle deployment.

It also proposed the creation of a new “presidential advisory committee” to coordinate the many federal agencies that oversee the auto industry, including the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others.

The trade group also wants costs incurred from California’s zero-emission vehicle sales mandates to be considered in the midterm evaluation of the federal program, which had not been factored into its guidelines. Automakers would like to see the nine other states that have adopted the ZEV policy to follow California’s practice of supporting the mandate with tax incentives and other programs. That’s led to “dramatically” different ZEV credit purchase rates outside of California, the Alliance said.

“The Administration should engage as appropriate to help address these ZEV issues –  especially to help avoid the creation of a patchwork of requirements that will frustrate the overall intent of the ‘One National Program,’” Bainwol wrote.

Automotive News