Governors from 22 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico, including at least three Republicans, are urging the White House to adopt tougher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, contending that consumers, automakers, and the environment will all suffer from Donald Trump’s determined effort to roll those standards back.
“Strong vehicle standards protect our communities from unnecessary air pollution and fuel costs, and they address the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States,” the group said in a public statement last week that included governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Phil Scott of Vermont as signatories.
“We’ve doubled our support,” Mary Nichols chair of the California Air Resources Board, told the Washington Post. “We’re seeing an awakening of interest on the part of other states that recognize the need for cleaner cars. This is not just about climate change, although that is certainly the major thrust of the regulations we’re fighting to maintain.”
“The group said it represents 52% of the U.S. population and 57% of the economy,” the Post reports—not including auto industry-centric Michigan, where Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer declined to sign but still affirmed support for the U.S. Climate Alliance through a spokesperson. “Their letter comes as the Trump administration is expected this summer to freeze fuel efficiency requirements for six years and end California’s long-standing authority to set its own standards,” the Post states. “That looming fight has thrust uncertainty into the auto market and raised the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle between federal officials and the nation’s most populous state.”
Recently, automakers have begged the White House to back down on its radical deregulatory agenda, warning that the rollback “threatens to cut their profits and produce ‘untenable’ instability in a crucial manufacturing sector,” the New York Times reported at the time. Canada subsequently announced it would align its fuel economy standards with California’s.
Nevertheless, the Post says Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation “are likely to finalize a proposal to set federal car standards at roughly 37 miles per gallon, rather than raising them to nearly 51 miles per gallon for 2025 models—the level that states, automakers, and the federal government agreed to during the Obama administration. The revised rule also would revoke California’s existing waiver to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has permitted for decades.”
Legislators in California “have shown no sign of backing down, saying they would sue over any effort to scale back the state’s autonomy and insisting the state would continue to move forward with more stringent emissions standards.”