WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials and California clean air regulators emerged from a meeting on Wednesday saying they would keep meeting to work toward resolving their sharp conflict over vehicle emissions and they shared the goal of a single national standard.
The two sides discussed the proposed Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule that backs freezing national vehicle emissions standards at 2020 levels through 2026, and the federal government’s intention to revoke California’s power to set state emissions rules, known as the California mandate. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed maintaining strict Obama-era rules mandating rising fuel efficiency requirements annually through 2025.
The officials said in a statement they agreed to hold future meetings aimed at achieving national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards that California and other states could accept.
Automakers have urged California and the administration to reach agreement, rather than face years of uncertainty. Automakers want less stringent increases in emissions standards because consumers now favor bigger cars that use more fuel, but they have not favored the administration’s plan to freeze the standards.
California air regulators said after the White House proposal was published that they plan to keep tightening state vehicle emissions rules despite a Trump administration proposal at the beginning of August. California’s air chief Mary Nichols told Reuters last month that she sees a “window” to make a deal this fall.
California’s decision is nationally significant because the state is the largest U.S. auto market. Also, a dozen states and the District of Columbia adhere to California’s emissions rules, accounting for more than a third of all U.S. vehicle sales.
Reporting by Steve Holland and Joe White