California Won’t Buy From Car Companies On The ‘Wrong Side’ Of History

The state of California has a powerful message for automakers who support the lowering of fuel efficiency standards for cars sold in their state: No more state contracts for you.

Cal Matters reports that Governor Gavin Newsom made it clear companies that make vehicles that don’t meet the higher fuel efficiency standards the state has mandated will be taken off the list of approved vendors. And that could cost those car companies millions a year in revenue:

“Starting immediately, California state agencies will no longer buy gas-powered sedans, officials said Friday. And starting in January, the state will stop purchasing vehicles from carmakers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.

“The decision affects General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other automakers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules. The policy will hit General Motors particularly hard; California spent more than $27 million on passenger vehicles from GM-owned Chevrolet in 2018.”

The move by Governor Newsom is the latest in the back-and-forth between California and the Trump administration, which is trying to reverse rules put in place during the Obama administration that would have significantly raised the fuel standards for cars sold in the U.S. market. As EcoWatch notes:

“The Obama administration had proposed fuel efficiency standards that would have required carmakers to achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, removing around six billion tons of carbon dioxide over the vehicles’ lifetimes, The New York Times explained. When the Trump administration proposed capping standards at around 37 miles per gallon, California and 13 other states said they would stick to the tougher standards, potentially splitting the U.S. auto market. This led Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America to strike a deal with California in July and agree to build fleets averaging 51 miles per gallon by model year 2026.”

The current administration, however, revoked California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act which allowed the state to set its own emissions standards in September. As a result, California and 22 other states have filed suit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That lawsuit is being opposed by GM, Toyota, and some other car manufacturers, which has led California to take action against them that will keep any state dollars from being used to buy vehicles made by companies that are opposed to the higher fuel standards.

Julia Stein, supervising attorney at the University of California Los Angeles Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, said California is putting a marker down regarding where it stands on the issue of the environment:

“It certainly sends a strong message to the automakers that have come out on the other side of California in this litigation. It’s taking steps to encourage automakers to be on what it views as the right side of that dispute.”

The finalized Trump administration fuel efficiency standards are supposed to be released within the next few months, but they’re expected to be far below the ones the Obama administration had in place, reportedly only boosting efficiency by a meager 1.5 percent a year.


Featured Image Via Pixabay

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Andrew Bradford

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