President Donald Trump is reportedly "enraged" that Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda struck a deal with California to steadily reduce the amount of pollution emitted by their new cars, according to The New York Times . The deal directly contradicts (and potentially threatens) one of the cornerstone efforts of his administration: an attempt to roll back even higher standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency under Barack Obama.
Trump reportedly even summoned other automakers – General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota – to the White House to pressure them to stick with the administration's plan, according to The New York Times .
Automakers originally lobbied Trump to relax the Obama-era rule, both before and after his inauguration . But instead of simply loosening the regulatory belt, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally proposed what amounts to a full rollback of the Obama-era rule. The Trump administration's rule would freeze increasing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels (around 37 miles per gallon) and no longer hold automakers to the ultimate goal, which was an average fuel economy of more than 50 miles per gallon by model year 2025.  The Trump administration built its proposal around the idea that high Obama-era standards would make new cars more expensive, pushing consumers to either buy older cars or stick with the ones they already own. Because older cars are typically less efficient and don't have the safety features of newer ones, the Trump administration is essentially making the case for trade in environmental gains in the final five years of the Obama rule for potential upfront cost savings and a reduction in crash-related injuries and deaths.
Trump said as much in a tweet on Wednesday saying that he is giving "politically correct Automobile Companies" the option of lowering the average cost of a car by "more than $ 3000 while at the same time making cars substantially safer" (though the EPA and NHTSA's proposal has nothing to do with making new cars safer) in exchange for "[v] ery little impact on the environment." He called automotive executives "foolish," though it's not explicitly clear if he was referring to the exe Cutives of Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda.
Many experts disagree with the Trump administration's calculations. Some argue any potential savings on the sticker price of new cars would likely be offset by increased fuel costs over the life of those vehicles, even if gas prices stay low. With less fuel-efficient cars, the rollback could also introduce hundreds of millions of metric tons of CO2 into the air, and increase oil consumption by more than 1 billion barrels, according to EPA's own estimates.
“The clean car standards are the most effective policy we have on books to fight climate change, and the transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution that causes climate change,” a nonprofit advocacy group Sierra Club said in a statement Wednesday. “The Trump administration's push for dirtier, less efficient vehicles would pump more carbon pollution into our air.”
The EPA and the NHTSA are expected to unveil the final rollback version of the Trump administration has been promoting something sometime this year, but The New York Times reports that staff members at those agencies are “scraping to assemble a coherent technical and scientific analysis required by law to implement a rule change of this scope.”