With Trump on his way out of power, GM suddenly has a change of heart about its place in the fight against global warming.
General Motors has dismissed a Trump administration lawsuit seeking to deprive California of the right to set its own emissions regulations for motor vehicles.
According to CNN, California has had repeated federal exemptions for decades that allow the state to set its own guidelines for air quality and emissions. For the most part, California rules were far stricter than those recommended or set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
CNN notes that several other states have also tried to emulate the California approach.
So far, most automakers have played along and designed newer cars to meet California’s emissions standards. However, the Trump administration announced in 2019 that it would revoke California’s waiver.
Still, several automakers – including Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen – had already negotiated with California and agreed to develop and release new vehicles that averaged 50 miles per gallon.
Fuel efficient vehicles would not only benefit consumer paperbacks, but could also cut carbon emissions significantly by 2026.
But General Motors – along with Toya and Fiat-Chrysler – dropped out and chose to join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California.
In public, GM said its decision to support the White House was made out of economic necessity – it was too difficult for an automaker to offer different cars with different emissions systems to different states.
Image via maxpixel. Public domain.
But when President Trump loses the White House in January, General Motors pulled out.
“We’re confident that California’s Biden Administration and the US auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can work together to find the path that enables an all-electric future,” General Motors wrote in a letter to environmental groups from the company’s CEO , Mary Barra, signed. “In order to better promote the necessary dialogue, we are withdrawing from the legal dispute immediately and inviting other automakers to join us.”
Company spokeswoman Jeanine Ginivan insisted that General Motors’ decision to support the lawsuit in the first place was not political.
“Our decision to intervene in the lawsuit was not about joining Trump,” Ginivan wrote in an email to CNN. “The decision was in line with our desire for a national standard that we still support.”
James Hewitt of the Environmental Protection Agency made a terse – and possibly humorous – comment on GM’s flip-flop.
“It’s always interesting,” said Hewitt, “to see the changing positions of US companies.”
Pressed for comment by CNN, Toyota said it was continually “evaluating” its positions but had not made a decision to withdraw from the lawsuit.
“We are assessing the situation as circumstances change, but we remain committed to our goal of achieving uniform, uniform standards for fuel economy in all 50 states,” said Toyota.
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has used General Motors’ withdrawal from the lawsuit as evidence that the Trump administration’s environmental policies were ill-planned and never sustainable.
“GM’s decision confirms how short-sighted the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine American ingenuity and what America’s defense against the climate threat really is,” Biden said in a statement.
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