San Francisco Chronicle

GM sides with Cal­i­for­nia on cli­mate change rules

- By Kur­tis Alexan­der Business · Climate Change · U.S. News · US Politics · Ecology · Transportation · Politics · Automotive Industry · Industries · General Motors Corporation · California · Donald Trump · White House · Toyota Motor Corporation · Toyota · Fiat Chrysler Automobiles · Chrysler · FIAT S.p.A. · Joe Biden · Washington · Mary Barra · Barack Obama · Honda · Ford Motor Company · Volkswagen · BMW · Mike Honda

Gen­eral Mo­tors said Mon­day it’s break­ing with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in its fight against Cal­i­for­nia’s clean air reg­u­la­tion, an early sign that the state’s na­tion­lead­ing cli­mate poli­cies are win­ning mo­men­tum as changes come to the White House.

The Detroit­based au­to­mo­bile gi­ant, along­side Toy­ota, Fiat Chrysler and a hand­ful of other au­tomak­ers, has al­lied with the fed­eral govern­ment in an in­dus­try-split­ting rift over whether

Cal­i­for­nia should be al­lowed to set stricter emis­sions rules for cars and light­duty trucks than the rest of the na­tion.

The fed­eral govern­ment has long al­lowed the state to set its own tailpipe pol­icy — a bid to im­prove Cal­i­for­nia’s smoggy skies and limit green­house gas emis­sions. Sev­eral states have adopted Cal­i­for­nia’s reg­u­la­tion. Last year, how­ever, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­scinded the state’s right to es­tab­lish its own rules, ar­gu­ing that the fed­eral govern­ment’s fuel econ­omy stan­dards should dic­tate auto emis­sions na­tion­wide.

Cit­ing Pres­i­den­t­elect Joe Bi­den’s support for cleaner cars and sens­ing tail­winds in Wash­ing­ton for stronger cli­mate action, Gen­eral Mo­tors said in a let­ter to en­vi­ron­men­tal groups Mon­day that it plans to be more bullish about elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and con­fronting global warm­ing.

“We be­lieve the am­bi­tious elec­tri­fi­ca­tion goals of the pres­i­den­t­elect, Cal­i­for­nia and Gen­eral Mo­tors are

Gen­eral Mo­tors says its elec­tri­fi­ca­tion goals to ad­dress global warm­ing are aligned with Cal­i­for­nia’s.

aligned to ad­dress cli­mate change by dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing au­to­mo­bile emis­sions,” com­pany CEO Mary Barra wrote.

The let­ter con­firmed that Gen­eral Mo­tors was drop­ping its support for the fed­eral govern­ment in its le­gal bat­tle with

Cal­i­for­nia over auto emis­sions. At stake is the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­fort to weaken na­tional fuel econ­omy stan­dards put in place un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. That in­cludes re­scind­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s waiver, un­der the Clean Air Act, to pur­sue an independen­t tailpipe pol­icy.

While Gen­eral Mo­tors did not en­dorse Cal­i­for­nia’s spe­cific emis­sions stan­dards, it ap­pears to be on the side of four other big au­tomak­ers that have: Honda, Ford, Volk­swa­gen and BMW. Last year, the four com­pa­nies struck a deal with Cal­i­for­nia to build cars and light­duty trucks that pol­lute less than the fed­eral govern­ment’s lim­its.

The move, which created a fis­sure in the in­dus­try as well as un­cer­tainty in the auto mar­ket, has spawned sev­eral law­suits.

Cal­i­for­nia has since re­quired state agen­cies to buy ve­hi­cles only from com­pa­nies that rec­og­nize its power to set tailpipe rules.

In its let­ter Mon­day, Gen­eral Mo­tors urged oth­ers in the in­dus­try to back the state. The ad­di­tional support could bol­ster Cal­i­for­nia’s case in the court­room, but more im­por­tantly help shift the tide in Wash­ing­ton in fa­vor of stronger cli­mate poli­cies.

Bi­den, who has pledged to tackle global warm­ing, could also seek to re­verse the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s le­gal ef­fort against Cal­i­for­nia and re­in­state tighter na­tional fuel econ­omy stan­dards, though this could take time.

In March, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nal­ized its roll­back of na­tion­wide fuel ef­fi­ciency stan­dards, re­quir­ing a 1.5% an­nual in­crease in fuel econ­omy through 2026, com­pared with Obama’s 5% an­nual in­crease.

 ?? Alex Wong / Getty Im­ages 2016 ?? CEO Mary Barra says GM plans to be more bullish on electric cars.
Alex Wong / Getty Im­ages 2016 CEO Mary Barra says GM plans to be more bullish on electric cars.

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