The Trump administration’s war of California continues as Reuters reports lawyers for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation told the California Air Resources Board that their recent deal with four automakers appears to be “unlawful and invalid.”
The publication goes on to say the letter said the deal “may result in legal consequences given the limits placed in federal law on California’s authority.”
If that wasn’t threatening enough, a separate Reuters report says the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether or not the agreement between California, BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen violated antitrust laws. The agency reportedly sent a letter to the automakers informing them about the investigation, but it appears to a “preliminary inquiry” at this stage.
As we reported in July, California and the four automakers agreed to extend current 2025 model year emission standards to 2026. They’ll also “smooth out” the standards between 2022 and 2025 “to provide additional lead time and slightly less aggressive year-over-year reductions.” California will also streamline the review and approval process for new technologies as well as remove the requirement that caused electric vehicles to be hit for greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity production.
While the agreement appears to be beneficial for everyone involved, the Trump administration was furious about it. Yesterday, reports surfaced that the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were preparing to submit a plan to revoke California’s ability to set their own emission standards and prevent other states from creating their own rules. In effect, it would create one national standard and the federal government would be in complete control of it.
It remains unclear how the antitrust investigation will pan out, but it can easily been seen as a move by the Trump administration to pressure automakers to drop out of the agreement. President Trump has been highly critical of the deal and has previously said “Car companies should know that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin.”