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Trump Admins Consult with Automaker Execs as Huge Brawl on Fuel Efficiency Ruling Draws Near

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The argument over fuel efficiency standards has flared up again as the final date for the EPA’s decision looms on the horizon. Before Scott Pruitt announces the decision, though, it seems that he is seeking counsel from the nation’s carmakers, as GM CEO Mary Barra met with Pruitt and the head of the Transportation Department to discuss the issue.

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It isn’t surprising that Pruitt would want to nail down where the auto industry stands on the issue. Although his inclination is clearly to ax the efficiency regulations, the result of doing so would be an immediate legal fight with officials from state governments like New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who promised litigation against any effort to roll back the proposed rules.

In addition, under current rules, a regulatory reduction would only reduce efficiency requirements in some of the country, as several states, led by California, which has the ability to set its own efficiency rules, would simply have higher standards, leading to a split in requirements.

That is the last thing that automakers want. What they want is a united, clear set of future rules, which would allow them to plan ahead, ideally with a relaxing of efficiency requirements or some other change to address the US consumer shift to larger vehicles.

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This could leave the Trump administration in a tight spot. On one side, there is the litigious environmental groups and state governments, promising to strongly oppose cutting regulations, and on the other are automakers pushing for cost-saving lower regulations and Pruitt’s own personal preference (he led his own litigious crusade against the EPA as Oklahoma attorney general when the Clean Air Act was passed).

However, it seems unlikely that this situation can be resolved without highly contested legal lines drawn in the sand unless the EPA can find some deal to get the state governments (particularly California) on board.

News Source: Reuters