In a letter sent to environmental and conservations groups, General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra announced that the company would no longer support the Trump administration’s efforts to bar California from setting its own vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The letter calls on other automakers to follow GM’s lead in withdrawing from the California litigation, and expresses strong support for President-elect Biden’s plans to expand vehicle electrification in the U.S.
In 2019, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation introduced a rule aimed at blocking state efforts to establish their own vehicle fuel economy or greenhouse gas pollution standards, arguing for a single, nationwide policy. Trump also announced plans to revoke a federal waiver that allowed California to set its own vehicle standards. The state took legal action against the administration’s moves, supported by environmental groups who argued that the federal standards proposed by Trump’s EPA fell far short of those needed to combat climate change. Late last year, GM and other automaker including Toyota and Fiat sided with the Trump administration, arguing that the rules should be set by the Federal government rather than individual states.
In staking out the company’s new position, Barra wrote:
“We are confident that the Biden Administration , California , and the U.S. auto industry , which supports 10.3 million jobs , can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future. To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”
In a statement following the publication of Barra’s letter, President-elect Biden welcomed the company’s new position. Biden said:
“GM’s decision reinforces how shortsighted the Trump Administration’s efforts to erode American ingenuity and America’s defenses against the climate threat truly are. In addition to advancing our ambitious climate goals, this decision will have a positive ripple effect as our nation strives to outcompete our global competitors, create good paying union jobs here at home, and reclaim our place as leaders in innovation and manufacturing – all of which will be priorities in my administration.”
Barra has led GM’s efforts to establish the company as a leading force in vehicle electrification. The company has invested billions in building out electrical vehicle manufacturing capacity. Last week, the company again announced a significant expansion of its EV plans, committing to offer 30 EV models by mid-decade, and increasing investments in EVs and AVs to $27 billion through 2025, up from prior plans of $20 billion.