Nov 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

GM abandons Trump lawsuit against California over emissions standards

General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra speaks at GM world headquarters June 12, 2018 in Detroit, MI. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
General Motors CEO Mary Barra speaks at GM headquarters June 12, 2018 in Detroit, MI. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors will pull out of any legal efforts that seek to strip California of its right to set its own clean-air standards, GM CEO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups, per AP.

Driving the news: Barra said the company, which is developing a new battery chemistry that will reduce the costs of electric-vehicle, agrees with President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to expand the use of electric vehicles, AP reported.

Context: General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 smaller automakers formed a coalition last year to back the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the authority to set stricter emissions standards than those issued at the federal level.

  • BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo and Honda, meanwhile, backed California and endorsed stricter fuel economy and emissions standards than proposed by the Trump administration, which has significantly rolled back standards put in place by the Obama administration.
  • Toyota said on Monday that it was reconsidering its position, per AP.
  • EPA spokesperson James Hewitt told Axios, "It’s always interesting to see the changing positions of U.S. corporations."

What she's saying: “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” wrote Barra, per AP.

Environmental groups welcomed Barra's announcement and urged other automakers to follow GM's lead.

  • Mary Nichols, the head of California’s Air Resources Board, called GM’s announcement “good news,” and that “[she] was pleased to be in communication with Mary Barra again," per AP.
  • Dan Becker of the Center for Biological Diversity, who openly criticized GM for trying to stop stricter pollution regulations, told AP in an email that "[n]ow the other automakers must follow GM and withdraw support for Trump’s attack on clean cars."
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