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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Fuel Efficiency"

Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions

Westlake Legal Group 07automakers-antitrustinv-facebookJumbo Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Justice Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency environment Automobiles

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation, launched last September, had escalated a dispute over one of President Trump’s most significant rollbacks of global warming regulations. The Justice Department’s move was one of a slew of seemingly retributive actions by the White House against California, as the state worked with the four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — to defy Mr. Trump’s planned rollback of national fuel economy standards.

A spokeswoman from Ford confirmed Friday afternoon that the company had been notified by the Justice Department that the investigation was closed. Representatives from BMW, Volkswagen and Honda did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department did not release a statement.

The closure may mark something of a détente in the political battle between the White House and California. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to address the city’s homeless crisis as well.

The Justice Department’s decision could boost the efforts of the auto companies and California to move ahead with tighter vehicle pollution standards than those being finalized by the federal government.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, welcomed the news. “These trumped-up charges were always a sham — a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” he said in a statement. He called the decision “a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”

In July, the four automakers announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards that would be stricter than those being sought by the White House. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

The Justice Department then opened an investigation into whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by working together to reach their deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice.

At the time Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in an opinion article in USA Today that the investigation was not politically motivated. “Those who criticize even the prospect of an antitrust investigation should know that, when it comes to antitrust, politically popular ends should not justify turning a blind eye to the competition laws,” Mr. Delrahim wrote.

In the months after California struck the deal with the automakers, the administration and Justice Department pushed an unusual series of legal and policy moves against California and the auto companies that backed the state’s climate change plan. In September, the Trump administration formally revoked California’s legal authority to set tougher state-level vehicle emissions standards than those set by the federal government.

The Justice Department then filed suit to force California to drop the Canadian province of Quebec from its carbon emissions market, a central effort to limit greenhouse gases from power plants by capping emissions and forcing polluters to buy permits to emit climate-warming carbon dioxide. The Justice Department argued that including Quebec was tantamount to a state illegally conducting foreign policy.

Also in September, the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California if it did not address a decades-long backlog of air pollution control plans.

But on Friday, Justice Department lawyers told automakers that they had concluded that they had not broken any rules or laws in their dealings with California, according to the people familiar with the matter.

In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to finalize a rule that would permanently roll back the federal Obama-era standards, which would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of their new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2025. Under those rules, new vehicles would have had to average about 54 miles per gallon.

The Trump administration’s plan will roll back that standard to about 40 miles per gallon.

The agreement reached between California and the four automakers, which account for about 30 percent of the United States auto market, requires an average fleetwide fuel economy of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. California has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to write air pollution rules that go beyond the federal government’s.

Automakers fear that a rift between Washington and Sacramento will split the domestic market between California and 13 other states enforcing one standard and the rest of the states following the more lenient federal standards.

To avert that outcome, the four automakers entered secretive negotiations with California hoping to agree on standards that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide.

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Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions

Westlake Legal Group 07automakers-antitrustinv-facebookJumbo Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Justice Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency environment Automobiles

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation, launched last September, had escalated a dispute over one of President Trump’s most significant rollbacks of global warming regulations. The Justice Department’s move was one of a slew of seemingly retributive actions by the White House against California, as the state worked with the four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — to defy Mr. Trump’s planned rollback of national fuel economy standards.

A spokeswoman from Ford confirmed Friday afternoon that the company had been notified by the Justice Department that the investigation was closed. Representatives from BMW, Volkswagen and Honda did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department did not release a statement.

The closure may mark something of a détente in the political battle between the White House and California. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to address the city’s homeless crisis as well.

The Justice Department’s decision could boost the efforts of the auto companies and California to move ahead with tighter vehicle pollution standards than those being finalized by the federal government.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, welcomed the news. “These trumped-up charges were always a sham — a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” he said in a statement. He called the decision “a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”

In July, the four automakers announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards that would be stricter than those being sought by the White House. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

The Justice Department then opened an investigation into whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by working together to reach their deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice.

At the time Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in an opinion article in USA Today that the investigation was not politically motivated. “Those who criticize even the prospect of an antitrust investigation should know that, when it comes to antitrust, politically popular ends should not justify turning a blind eye to the competition laws,” Mr. Delrahim wrote.

In the months after California struck the deal with the automakers, the administration and Justice Department pushed an unusual series of legal and policy moves against California and the auto companies that backed the state’s climate change plan. In September, the Trump administration formally revoked California’s legal authority to set tougher state-level vehicle emissions standards than those set by the federal government.

The Justice Department then filed suit to force California to drop the Canadian province of Quebec from its carbon emissions market, a central effort to limit greenhouse gases from power plants by capping emissions and forcing polluters to buy permits to emit climate-warming carbon dioxide. The Justice Department argued that including Quebec was tantamount to a state illegally conducting foreign policy.

Also in September, the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California if it did not address a decades-long backlog of air pollution control plans.

But on Friday, Justice Department lawyers told automakers that they had concluded that they had not broken any rules or laws in their dealings with California, according to the people familiar with the matter.

In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to finalize a rule that would permanently roll back the federal Obama-era standards, which would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of their new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2025. Under those rules, new vehicles would have had to average about 54 miles per gallon.

The Trump administration’s plan will roll back that standard to about 40 miles per gallon.

The agreement reached between California and the four automakers, which account for about 30 percent of the United States auto market, requires an average fleetwide fuel economy of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. California has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to write air pollution rules that go beyond the federal government’s.

Automakers fear that a rift between Washington and Sacramento will split the domestic market between California and 13 other states enforcing one standard and the rest of the states following the more lenient federal standards.

To avert that outcome, the four automakers entered secretive negotiations with California hoping to agree on standards that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Stricter Auto Emissions Rules

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected on Wednesday to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, in a move designed by the White House to strike twin blows against both the liberal-leaning state that President Trump has long antagonized and the environmental legacy of President Barack Obama.

The announcement that the White House will revoke one of California’s signature environmental policies will come while Mr. Trump is traveling in the state, where he is scheduled to attend fund-raisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.

The formal revocation of California’s authority to set its own rules on tailpipe pollution — the United States’ largest source of greenhouse emissions — will be announced Wednesday afternoon at a private event at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter.

A White House spokesman referred questions on the matter to the Environmental Protection Agency. A spokesman for the E.P.A. did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, said the state intends to strike back with a lawsuit, one that is expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court. “While the White House clings to the past, automakers and American families embrace cleaner cars,” he wrote in an email, calling the tougher standards “achievable, science-based, and a boon for hardworking American families and public health.”

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The move has been widely expected since last summer, when the Trump administration unveiled its draft plan to roll back the strict federal fuel economy standards put in place by the Obama administration. That draft Trump rule also included a plan to revoke a legal waiver, granted to the state of California under the 1970 Clean Air Act, allowing it to set tougher state-level standards than those put forth by the federal government.

The revocation of the waiver would also affect 13 other states that follow California’s clean air rules.

In recent months, the administration’s broader weakening of nationwide auto-emissions standards has become plagued with delays as staff members struggled to prepare adequate legal, technical or scientific justifications for the move.

As a result, the White House decided to proceed with just one piece of its overall plan — the move to strip California of its legal authority to set tougher standards — while delaying the release of its broader rollback, according to these people.

The administration’s plans have been further complicated because major automakers have told the White House that they do not want such an aggressive rollback. In July, four automakers formalized their opposition to Mr. Trump’s plans by signing a deal with California to comply with tighter emissions standards if the broader rollback goes through.

While the broader efforts to undo the federal vehicle emissions standards remain incomplete, the legal proposal to revoke California’s legal authority to set its own pollution rule has been completed and ready to go for weeks.

85 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump

June 2, 2019

Westlake Legal Group environment-rules-reversed-trump-promo-1530854517535-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Trump to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Stricter Auto Emissions Rules United States Politics and Government Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Clean Air Act Carbon Dioxide California Automobiles Air Pollution
America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

June 19, 2019

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Trump to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Stricter Auto Emissions Rules United States Politics and Government Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Clean Air Act Carbon Dioxide California Automobiles Air Pollution

White House officials have also been eager to move quickly to revoke California’s authority to set its own standards because they want the opportunity to defend the legal effort to undo emissions regulations in the Supreme Court before the end of Mr. Trump’s first term. The thinking goes that if a Democrat were to be elected president in 2020, the federal government would be unlikely to defend revocation of the waiver in the high court.

California’s special right to set its own tailpipe pollution rules dates to the 1970 Clean Air Act, the landmark federal legislation designed to fight air pollution nationwide. The law granted California a waiver to set stricter rules of its own because the state already had clean air legislation in place before the landmark 1970 federal legislation.

A revocation of the California waiver would have national significance. Thirteen other states follow California’s tighter standards, together representing roughly a third of the national auto market.

Because of that, the fight over federal auto emissions rules has the potential to split the United States auto market, with some states adhering to stricter pollution standards than others. For automakers, that represents a nightmare scenario.

The Obama-era tailpipe pollution rules that the administration hopes to weaken would require automakers to build vehicles that achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, cutting about six billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution over the lifetimes of those vehicles. The proposed Trump rule would lower the requirement to about 37 miles per gallon, allowing for most of that pollution to be emitted.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

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The Concept Cars Gleam, but Executive Dread Clouds the Frankfurt Auto Show

FRANKFURT — Car executives are paid to be optimists, but behind the pomp and salesmanship at the Frankfurt International Motor Show this week lurked an unmistakable sense of angst.

The talk among industry insiders at the show, one of the auto industry’s biggest events, reflected the existential threats that carmakers face.

The European and global auto markets are in decline. Carmakers are betting their futures on electric vehicles whose marketability is untested. Manufacturers are under intense public and regulatory pressure because of the role that vehicles play in climate change. The global trade war has disrupted supply chains.

Even auto shows are under threat. Many manufacturers scaled back their presence in Frankfurt this year or skipped the show altogether. Companies like Toyota and Fiat Chrysler decided the benefits didn’t justify the millions of euros it takes to put on a display.

“It’s an unprecedented situation we are in,” said Wolf-Henning Scheider, chief executive of ZF Friedrichshafen, a German transmission maker that has an extensive network of factories in the United States, Europe and China.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160607595_7d94f124-21ce-4b9a-93e8-299d119337a0-articleLarge The Concept Cars Gleam, but Executive Dread Clouds the Frankfurt Auto Show Volkswagen AG Renault SA Mercedes-Benz International Trade and World Market Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fuel Efficiency Frankfurt Auto Show Frankfurt (Germany) Engines Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Driverless and Semiautonomous Vehicles Daimler AG Batteries Automobiles

BMW is showing an electric Mini.CreditFelix Schmitt for The New York Times

Volkswagen is producing its ID.3 electric sedan with wind and solar energy.CreditFelix Schmitt for The New York Times

Mr. Scheider noted that carmakers must invest vast sums in electric vehicles and autonomous driving at the same time they are coping with a trade war. “All these at the same time is new,” Mr. Scheider said in an interview.

The Frankfurt show was as good a place as any to find out how auto executives plan to survive the tsunami. Here are some of the main takeaways.

Protests by environmental groups were especially intense this year, as carmakers increasingly take the blame for climate change. Volkswagen alone accounts for more than 1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the company’s own calculations.

This week Greenpeace activists stood on the roofs of S.U.V.s on display at the Frankfurt exhibition grounds with signs that chided, “Climate Killer.” The militant group Attac planned to blockade streets and bring traffic to a standstill on Saturday, the day the show opens to the public.

Carmakers are desperate to show that they get the message. Ola Källenius, chief executive of Daimler, said in Frankfurt that the company’s Mercedes-Benz factories will be carbon neutral next year.

Volkswagen is producing its ID.3 electric sedan with wind and solar energy, and offsetting any additional emissions by financing a project in the rainforests of Borneo. At an event this week to unveil the ID.3, guests were handed bamboo forks to eat hors d’oeuvres.

“We’re serious,” Herbert Diess, the Volkswagen chief executive, said during a debate with Tina Velo, a leader of Attac, who questioned the company’s commitment to the environment.

But carmakers still make most of their money from fuel-thirsty S.U.V.s. Nicolas Peter, chief financial officer of BMW, said the industry couldn’t solve its image problems with public relations alone.

“We have to do the right thing,” he told a small group of reporters on Tuesday.

Carmakers are operating on the assumption that tensions between China and the United States won’t be resolved soon. They are rethinking their supply chains and moving production closer to customers so that fewer goods have to cross borders and be exposed to tariffs.

That applies to software as well as hardware. Mr. Scheider of ZF said that, for security reasons, autonomous driving technology developed for the United States has to be kept out of China and vice versa. “That is a risk, that these two regions drift apart,” he said.

Forced to choose, many companies would have to pick China. It has become by far the biggest car market, and several executives said they expected it to keep growing despite a recent decline in sales. Mr. Scheider pointed out that rates of car ownership were still low outside the major cities.

“I’m pretty confident the Chinese market will grow continuously,” he said.

A slew of mainstream carmakers unveiled battery-powered cars in Frankfurt that will sell at prices within reach of middle-class households.

The most important new product at the show is easily the ID.3, a four-door hatchback that Volkswagen said would be the first in a line of affordable battery-powered vehicles, including an S.U.V. and a minivan.

Honda unveiled an electric vehicle known simply as the E, and BMW showed an electric version of its popular Mini. Including incentives available in the United States, Germany and other countries, the end price of these vehicles should be 30,000 euros ($33,000) or less. Because electric cars have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance, the cost of ownership may be lower than for a conventional car.

Ola Källenius, chief executive of Daimler. He said the company’s Mercedes-Benz factories would be carbon neutral next year.CreditFelix Schmitt for The New York Times

But no one knows yet whether these vehicles will be popular enough to justify the investment and allow carmakers to meet European Union fuel economy targets that take effect next year. Carmakers that fail to deliver average fuel economy of 57 miles per gallon face draconian fines.

Regret is written on the faces of auto executives’ faces when they say it, but the age of the internal combustion engine is slowly coming to an end.

“One is amazed at what can still be achieved with the internal combustion engine,” said Markus Schäfer, the head of research and development at Daimler. He added, however: “Of course the main focus is on electrification.”

Mr. Schäfer told a small group of reporters that Mercedes did not plan to develop any more internal combustion engines after it finished the rollout of a new four-cylinder motor, which is underway. “That is the last,” he said.

But battery-powered cars are likely to be less profitable for carmakers, which tend to operate on thin margins to begin with. Most make their own gasoline or diesel motors. They must buy batteries from suppliers like LG Chem of South Korea, Panasonic of Japan or CATL of China, which will keep a big chunk of the profits.

Batteries for electric cars have made rapid progress in the last decade, dropping in price and delivering more juice per pound than even a few years ago. The latest generation of the Renault Zoe can travel 395 kilometers, or 245 miles, on a charge, more than double the range of the first generation, which went on sale in 2012.

“In less than a decade, we already have done huge progress,” Gilles Normand, senior vice president for electric vehicles at Renault, said in an interview. “You can easily imagine what’s going to come in the next 10 years.”

The BMW Vision iNext luxury electric automobile, left, and a Vision M Next concept car.CreditFelix Schmitt for The New York Times

Thierry Bolloré, the chief executive of Renault, said that the company was working on a €10,000 ($12,000) electric car. “We have a clear estimate that this is reachable, absolutely, and still make money,” Mr. Bolloré said during a news conference Tuesday.

Others are more pessimistic. The prevailing lithium-ion technology will probably reach its limits in five years, Mr. Schäfer of Daimler said. Further progress will rest on new technologies such as solid state batteries, which will weigh less and be easier to cool but are not yet ready for mass production. “We need a quantum leap in the technology,” Mr. Schäfer said.

Some companies will adapt to new technologies, but some won’t be able to invest enough to stay competitive.

Mergers would be a way out for weaker companies, but those have proved difficult. Mr. Bolloré of Renault said in Frankfurt that there was no effort to revive the aborted deal with Fiat Chrysler.

“We are not talking to each other,” he told reporters. “The offer was on the table. It’s no longer on the table. That’s it.” Mr. Bolloré added that he regretted the merger hadn’t worked out.

The coming shakeout may be most brutal among suppliers, particularly smaller companies far down the industry food chain that supply specialized parts for combustion engines.

“Every downturn, there is a consolidation that takes place,” said Derek Jenkins, a former Mazda and Volkswagen executive who is senior vice president of design at Lucid, a California company that plans to begin producing a luxury electric car at the end of 2020. Lucid, backed by Saudi investors, is an example of the start-ups challenging the established carmakers.

“Brands disappear,” Mr. Jenkins said in an interview. “That will happen in the next downturn cycle.”

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Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray

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WASHINGTON — The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more from joining the other side.

Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks.

But even as the White House was working to do this, it was losing ground. Yet another company, Mercedes-Benz, is now preparing to join the California agreement, according to two people familiar with the German company’s plans.

Mr. Trump, described by three people as “enraged” by California’s deal, has also demanded that his staffers step up the pace to complete his plan. His proposal, however, is directly at odds with the wishes of many automakers, which fear that the aggressive rollbacks will spark a legal battle between California and the federal government that could split the United States car market in two.

The administration’s efforts to weaken the Obama-era pollution rules could be rendered irrelevant if too many automakers join California in opposition before the plan can be put into effect. That could imperil one of Mr. Trump’s most far-reaching rollbacks of climate-change policies.

In addition to Mercedes-Benz, a sixth prominent automaker — one of the three summoned last month to the White House — also intends to disregard the Trump proposal and stick to the current, stricter federal emissions standards for at least the next four years, according to executives at the company.

Together, the six manufacturers who so far plan not to adhere to the new Trump rules account for more than 40 percent of all cars sold in the United States.

“You get to a point where, if enough companies are with California, then what the Trump administration is doing is moot,” said Alan Krupnick, an economist with Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan energy and environment research organization.

A senior administration official called the California pact “a government solution to force the adoption of expensive vehicles that everyday Americans don’t want or need.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added: “It’s simply top-down policymaking from California that’s trying to force their standard on 49 other states.”

The Trump administration’s proposal would drastically weaken the 2012 vehicle pollution standards put in place by President Barack Obama, which remain the single largest policy enacted by the United States to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. The Obama-era rules require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, cutting carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations, about the same amount the United States produces in a year.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the sun’s heat and is a major contributor to climate change.

Mr. Trump has billed his plan, which would freeze the standards at about 37 miles per gallon, as a deregulatory win for automakers that will also keep down car prices for American consumers. Mr. Trump’s plan would also revoke the legal authority of California and other states to impose their own emissions standards.

In an extraordinary move, automakers have balked at Mr. Trump’s proposal, mainly because California and 13 other states plan to continue enforcing their current, stricter rules, and to sue the Trump administration. That could lead to a nightmare scenario for automakers: Years of regulatory uncertainty and a United States auto market that effectively split in two.

Last week, California officials said in interviews that they expected more automakers to join their pact, which commits carmakers to build vehicles to a standard nearly as strict as the Obama-era rules that the president would like to weaken. “Many companies have told us — more than one or two — that they would sign up the agreement as soon as they felt free to do so,” said Mary Nichols, the top clean air official in California.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159466788_45f2b212-f7cb-4526-bd5a-f3f2bae13117-articleLarge Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Transportation Department (US) Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Mercedes-Benz Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles

Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board in 2018.CreditDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Officials from Mercedes-Benz declined to comment.

Executives from the three auto companies summoned to the White House declined to comment publicly on their interactions with the Trump administration. But at a recent press event, Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive, said of the California pact: “We are absolutely going to have a look at it and see what it means.”

In the Trump administration, three senior political officials working on the rollback, a complex legal and scientific process, have all left the administration recently. A senior career official with years of experience on vehicle pollution policy was transferred to another office.

That means the process is now being helmed by Francis Brooke, a 29-year-old White House aide with limited experience in climate change policy before moving over from Vice President Mike Pence’s office last year. Given the lack of experienced senior staffers, people working on the plan say it is now unlikely to be completed before October.

At the same time, staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department, which are writing the rule, say they are struggling to assemble a coherent technical and scientific analysis required by law to implement a rule change of this scope.

Several analyses by academics and consumer advocates have questioned administration’s claim of benefits to the public. An Aug. 7 report by Consumer Reports concluded that Mr. Trump’s proposed rollback would cost consumers $460 billion between vehicle model years 2021 and 2035, an average of $3,300 more per vehicle, in car prices and gasoline purchases. It also found the rollback would increase the nation’s oil consumption by 320 billion gallons.

“The numbers, public comments and real analysis are at odds with what the White House wants to do,” said one career staff member at the E.P.A., speaking on condition of anonymity.

The White House official called the staff departures “irrelevant” and said that the rule was near completion. “It is a major change, so it does take time. What we are seeing now is that people who were opposed to the rule from the beginning, including some in the automotive industry, are starting to get nervous that our plan to make cars safer and more affordable is going to succeed.”

Policy experts point out that Mr. Trump’s quest to undo his predecessor’s signature climate-change regulation despite opposition from the very industry being regulated is extraordinarily unusual. For automakers, they say, it makes more sense to try to remain globally competitive by building more sophisticated vehicles as the world market moves toward more efficient cars.

“I don’t think there is any precedent for a major industry to say, ‘We are prepared to have a stronger regulation,’ and to have the White House say, ‘No, we know better,’” said William K. Reilly, who headed the E.P.A. in the first George Bush administration.

For some companies, Mr. Trump’s regulations are already moot. An E.P.A. assessment of the 2017 Honda CR-V, the best-selling SUV in the country that year, showed the car is set to meet 2022 Obama-era targets five years ahead of schedule. Honda is one of the four automakers to have signed on to the California pact, along with Ford, Volkswagen and BMW.

Late last month, in the days immediately after deal between California and the four automakers was announced, White House discussions ranged widely about how to respond.

At one White House meeting, Mr. Trump went so far as to propose scrapping his own rollback plan and keeping the Obama regulations in place, while still revoking California’s legal authority to set its own standards, according to the three people familiar with the meeting. The president framed it as a way to retaliate against both California and the four automakers in California’s camp, those people said.

Neal E. Boudette contributed reporting from Detroit.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

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Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go.

Westlake Legal Group six-years-ago-he-helped-expose-vws-diesel-fraud-this-year-g-m-let-him-go Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go. Winterkorn, Martin west virginia Volkswagen AG United States Layoffs and Job Reductions Germany General Motors Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Frankfurt (Germany) Foreign Workers Foreign Students (in US) Environmental Protection Agency California Air Resources Board Bangalore (India) Automobiles Air Pollution

FRANKFURT — Hemanth Kappanna might seem like just another victim of corporate restructuring, a foreign worker whose skills were no longer needed, a middle-age man with dashed American dreams.

But Mr. Kappanna, an engineer born in India who was laid off by General Motors in February, changed automotive history.

In 2013, he was part of a small team of engineering students in West Virginia whose research helped expose Volkswagen’s decade-long conspiracy to lie about its diesel cars’ excessive emissions. The German carmaker has paid $23 billion so far to resolve criminal charges and lawsuits in the United States, and $33 billion overall.

Mr. Kappanna’s role as a hero in bringing the Volkswagen scandal to light did not protect him when his supervisor called him into a conference room in Milford, Mich., this past winter.

Mr. Kappanna, who had studied and lived in the United States for 17 years, joined G.M. in December 2014 after finishing his doctorate. His most recent job involved communicating with the Environmental Protection Agency about the carmaker’s emissions technology.

The supervisor said it was nothing personal, Mr. Kappanna, 41, recalled by telephone from Michigan last week. His severance package consisted of two months’ pay and a one-way ticket to India. He was one of about 4,000 G.M. workers laid off in what the company called a “strategic transformation.”

“They let me go,” he said, still sounding bewildered. Unable to find a job before his work visa’s 60-day grace period expired, Mr. Kappanna returned to Bangalore, his hometown, a few days later.

Mr. Kappanna was a graduate student when he got involved in a “Mad Max” sort of experiment on Volkswagens.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_151445670_ec391688-037c-48ea-9a29-c212b796683c-articleLarge Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go. Winterkorn, Martin west virginia Volkswagen AG United States Layoffs and Job Reductions Germany General Motors Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Frankfurt (Germany) Foreign Workers Foreign Students (in US) Environmental Protection Agency California Air Resources Board Bangalore (India) Automobiles Air Pollution

A Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The carmaker has paid $23 billion so far to resolve criminal charges and lawsuits in the United States related to the emissions scheme, and $33 billion overall.CreditSean Gallup/Getty Images

He was studying at West Virginia University in Morgantown, which is known for its research on auto emissions, when the director of his program asked him to complete a grant application from the International Council on Clean Transportation. The council, a nonprofit group, wanted to test the emissions of German diesel cars sold in America. Mr. Kappanna was pursuing a doctorate, and his proposal helped the university win a modest $70,000 grant.

The university planned a real-time test of emissions, and it rigged up an ingenious way to scrutinize the exhaust generated under open-road conditions. The standard practice was to test cars in specially equipped garages, which is much easier than trying to analyze fumes from a moving vehicle.

Mr. Kappanna and two other graduate students, Marc Besch from Switzerland and Arvind Thiruvengadam from India, were chosen to do the fieldwork. They bolted portable emissions-testing equipment to a sheet of plywood and crammed it into the back of a Volkswagen diesel station wagon.

The rig, powered by a portable gasoline generator, was noisy and smelly but, with every mile, it churned out data that challenged sticker-price assurances. The emissions were dirtier than anyone would have imagined.

Mr. Kappanna and his fellow students did not know it, but they were gathering evidence of a crime. Volkswagen engineers had devised so-called defeat device software that could recognize the standardized procedure used by regulators in their testing labs. In the labs, the software dialed up a car’s pollution controls.

But when officials were not looking or, more important, when the cars were being used by regular motorists, the software dialed down to save wear and tear on the fragile emissions-control equipment. Volkswagen never expected anyone, much less a group of graduate students, to test the cars on the highway, when the defeat device would not work.

Mr. Kappanna, Mr. Besch and Mr. Thiruvengadam documented that Volkswagens polluted far more than regulations allowed when they were driven on highways and city streets. In March 2014, Mr. Besch presented the findings at a conference for emissions experts in San Diego.

Their paper did not directly accuse Volkswagen of wrongdoing. But the data it included raised red flags for officials with the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency who were in the audience.

The regulators began an investigation that, a year and a half later, forced Volkswagen to confess that it had installed the cheating software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide, including almost 600,000 in the United States. The inquiry called attention to the health hazards of diesel fuel and spurred consumers to shun the technology.

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory. The company has confessed to installing cheating software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide, including almost 600,000 in the United States.CreditSean Gallup/Getty Images

Today, two former Volkswagen executives are serving prison terms in the United States for their roles in trying to cover up the emissions fraud. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen’s former chief executive, faces criminal charges in the United States and Germany for his alleged role in the scheme. He has denied wrongdoing.

The market share of diesel cars in Europe, once the most popular engine option in the region, was only 31 percent in March, the lowest level since 2000, according to data compiled by JATO Dynamics, a research firm.

Ironically, Mr. Kappanna’s most recent position at G.M. involved complying with tougher disclosure requirements that the E.P.A. imposed on carmakers after the Volkswagen scandal.

Mr. Kappanna is proud of his role in unmasking Volkswagen’s wrongdoing, but he also wonders whether he was seen within G.M. as overly zealous about compliance and too friendly to regulators.

“Certainly they could have seen me as biased,” he said. “I can’t really say.”

G.M. said this week that Mr. Kappanna’s dismissal “was not related to any emissions compliance concerns or related issues.” That he was not a United States citizen also played no role, G.M. said in an emailed statement.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Kappanna and other G.M. workers came to work in Milford on Feb. 4 to find notices taped to conference room doors: the rooms had been reserved for human resources meetings. Mr. Kappanna soon received a phone call from the director of his division to meet him in one of the rooms.

“I felt it even before I stepped into the room,” Mr. Kappanna said about the loss of his job.

He turned in his company laptop and a security guard escorted him out of the building. He was one of three people let go in a department of about 50. Colleagues, he said, reassured him that his dismissal was “one of those shortsighted decisions taken to meet the numbers.”

“It was completely wrong on the part of leadership,” he said they told him.

Still, when his co-workers invited Mr. Kappanna for a farewell beer that evening, he declined.

“I was still coming to terms with what had just happened,” he said.

He said he had a lead on a job with another automaker and still hoped to return to the United States. But the industry is suffering a slowdown and his prospects are uncertain. Single and with no children, he was apprehensive about returning to India after spending nearly half his life in America.

“I’m a little skeptical how I’m going to adapt,” he said.

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Ford Says Justice Department Has Opened Criminal Inquiry Into Emissions Issues

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The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into Ford Motor’s emissions-certification process, the company said on Friday.

In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the automaker said it had also notified several other state and federal agencies about “issues relating to road load estimations” and that it was cooperating with all government inquiries.

The federal investigation, which is focused on whether the company relied on technology that misreported emissions output and fuel economy, is in its “preliminary stages” but may damage Ford’s financial health, the company said.

Ford said in February that it was investigating how it tested the emissions and fuel efficiency of its vehicles after employees reported possible flaws with the company’s computer models.

The company said then that it had notified the Environmental Protection Agency about the issue and had hired a law firm to investigate specifications it used in the testing. On Friday, Ford said it had disclosed the potential problem to the California Air Resources Board around the same time. The Justice Department stepped in afterward, according to the regulatory filing.

Ford said its concerns did not involve the so-called defeat device software implicated in Volkswagen’s yearslong scheme to cheat emissions tests.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

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Automakers Plan for Their Worst Nightmare: Regulatory Chaos After Trump’s Emissions Rollback

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WASHINGTON — As the Trump administration prepares to drastically weaken Obama-era rules restricting vehicle pollution, nervous automakers are devising a strategy to handle their worst-case scenario: a divided American auto market, with some states following President Trump’s weakened rules while others stick with the tougher ones.

The effort is increasingly urgent because the Trump administration has now settled on the key details of its rollback plan, according to two people familiar with the matter. The new rules would all but eliminate the Obama-era restrictions, essentially freezing standards at about 37 miles per gallon, compared to 54.5 miles per gallon required by the current rules. The policy makes it a near-certainty that California and 13 other states, collectively representing roughly one-third of the United States auto market, will keep enforcing the stricter rules, splitting the national auto market in two.

Although Mr. Trump has billed his rollback as a boon to the auto industry, automakers say the split-market outcome would be a logistical and financial nightmare for them. Their current strategy centers on selling completely different kinds of cars in different parts of the country — chiefly hybrids or electric vehicles in states like California, and less efficient SUVs (which American car buyers love) in other states.

But automakers recognize it would be easy for some buyers to simply cross state lines to buy what they want.

“We could see a scenario where there are limited choices for consumers in the high-fuel-economy states, or a stampede at the border to buy cars in the states that follow the federal standards,” said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

In that case, Ms. Bergquist said, states with stricter standards might have to create new rules against buying cars from other states. “Because this is all such new territory, no one’s quite sure how this is going to work,” she said. “We’re trying to figure it out. But it’s going to be a headache.”

Automakers have told White House officials that they dread this split-market outcome, but it appears increasingly likely because California and the 13 other states that follow its strict state pollution rules have said they plan to sue the White House in order to keep the current standards in place.

The industry had initially asked Mr. Trump to loosen the auto pollution rules, which were among Mr. Obama’s signature policies aimed at fighting climate change. However, the companies also asked that Mr. Trump strike a deal with California and the other states to maintain a single national standard. But the White House has stopped negotiating with California.

The administration has settled on the key details of its rollback, according to two people familiar with the terms.

The plan, which is being jointly written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would require automakers to raise the fuel economy of their fleets by about 1 percent annually between 2021 and 2026, according to these people. That would be a sharp reduction from the 5 percent annual increase now required.

In addition, the Trump plan would also give automakers credits for using cleaner technologies, like more modern refrigerants in air-conditioners, something that most already do. The Trump plan would also revoke the legal right of California and other states to set their own, stronger standards, setting up the legal clash between the federal government and the states.

The plan is expected to be published in the next few months, at which point it formally goes into effect.

The president has made it clear he wants automakers to publicly support the rollback when it is announced. “Every administration wants the industry to stand with them in the Rose Garden,” Ms. Bergquist said. “But regulatory certainty is really important for automakers.”

If the nation’s auto market does get split in two, the challenge for automakers will come specifically in figuring out how to sell a radically different mix of cars in different states. For example, in states like California, automakers would have to demonstrate that the average mileage of all the cars they sell is much higher (about 54 miles per gallon by 2025) than in states like Utah, where the new Trump standard of about 38 miles per gallon would be in effect.

But because Americans have shown a growing preference for SUVs over thriftier vehicles like electrics, manufacturers might have to significantly cut prices on electric vehicles in the high-mileage states, a potentially money-losing proposition for them, while raising the prices of gas-guzzlers. Meanwhile, auto lots in low-mileage states might hold a completely different mix of cars at different prices.

If car buyers simply cross state lines to buy gas-guzzlers and bring them into the cleaner-standard states, it could create more regulatory headaches for the companies, which could also be subject to fines from high-mileage states if they fail to comply.

Representatives of Ford and General Motors, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the administration’s final plans have not been made public, said their companies felt torn between backing the Trump plan, which could hurt their bottom line, or opposing it and siding with California, which could bring retaliation from Mr. Trump.

In particular, automakers fear that the administration would retaliate against them by imposing trade sanctions like tariffs on auto imports. That could raise the cost of American vehicles, many of which are manufactured overseas.

A recent a draft report from the Commerce Department concluded that auto imports threaten national security, according to one person who viewed it. A final version of that report has been sent to the White House, and while it has not been made public, the conclusion that auto imports are a national security threat would pave the way for Mr. Trump to impose tariffs on auto imports.

“They will have to choose between Trump and California,” said Margo T. Oge, a former senior E.P.A. official who works on auto pollution policy issues.

“If you go with Trump, it solves the short-term temper tantrum and the threat of trade wars on the horizon,” she said. “But that is also taking a big legal risk. Because in the long term, California could win the legal fight to keep its state standards. Trump is right now, but California is forever.”

Mr. Trump has frequently turned to tariffs on foreign products as a wide-ranging source of leverage to try to exact concessions from both foreign governments and multinational companies.

A senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said the White House still hoped to have the auto industry’s backing and was unaware of plans to use trade sanctions as leverage or punishment.

“The auto industry is important to the White House,” the official said. “The agencies are still working through the rule-making process and no final decisions have been made.”

In interviews, California officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record, noted that California already has in place border laws requiring vehicles brought into the state to meet certain pollution standards.

“California is prepared to strike at any blow dealt our way and regardless of what comes next, we have laws in place to keep our state moving forward,” the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said.

Although officials at the E.P.A. and the Transportation Department have largely settled on the top-line numbers of the plan, they are months from completing the accompanying legal and technical documents required to justify such a major rule change, according to three people familiar with the plan. Those people noted that the process of creating the documents was stalled by the 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149274069_ddcd9c87-46ea-4fed-affa-2e56fde3c777-articleLarge Automakers Plan for Their Worst Nightmare: Regulatory Chaos After Trump’s Emissions Rollback United States Politics and Government Transportation Department (US) Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles

Andrew R. Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Those document delays mean the final plan is unlikely to be made public until at least late spring or early summer, these people said.

The release date is significant because it would prompt the expected legal battle, which is likely to end up before the Supreme Court. But if the plan isn’t released until this summer, it means the legal challenges aren’t likely to reach the Supreme Court during Mr. Trump’s first term in office.

The risk is that, should a Democrat defeat Mr. Trump in his re-election bid, the new administration could simply decline to defend the plan in court.

“The longer they wait on this, the easier it will be for the next administration to undo it,” said Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University who served as legal counsel in the Obama administration.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington, and Hiroko Tabuchi from New York.

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