A group of major domestic and foreign automakers formally asked President Donald Trump to restart talks with California over vehicle emission regulations, warning that failing to reach a unified national standard could destabilize the industry and hamper investment.
The letter to Trump on Thursday from 17 carmakers— including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. subsidiary— comes less than a month after California’s top environmental regulator threatened to enact much tougher pollution rules. The automakers’ plea for a compromise was sent four months after the White House terminated talks between federal regulators and California officials over maintaining common standards governing vehicle emissions and fuel economy.
“We encourage both the federal government and California to resume discussions and to remain open to regulatory adjustments that provide the flexibility needed to meet future environmental goals and respond to consumer needs,” the automakers said. They added that a unified standard that achieves “year-over-year improvements in fuel economy” while facilitating the adoption of alternative vehicles would “enhance our ability to invest and innovate by avoiding an extended period of litigation and instability.”
The group sent a similar letter Thursday to California Governor Gavin Newsom, calling on him to resume negotiations with the federal government toward reaching a compromise.
The White House has been developing a final plan for easing tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standards and fuel economy requirements that is expected to be issued within months. California is critical, because its own emissions rules are adhered to by a dozen other states— a bloc that represents more than a third of U.S. auto sales.
Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, noted the late timing of the automakers’ appeal. Carmakers “want the administration to strike a deal with California,” he said. But “we are now in the eleventh hour, and I fear it won’t be long before the rubber meets the road and the administration’s reckless rollback is finalized.”
An Environmental Protection Agency spokesman referred questions about the automakers’ letter to the White House. Representatives of the Transportation Department and the White House did not respond to emails seeking comment.