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GM recognizes California's right to set emissions rules, in reversal from Trump era

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GM is now backing California.

General Motors

General Motors completed a full reversal of its support for the Trump administration’s stance on emissions on Monday as it recognized California’s right to set vehicle emissions standards and rules. In a letter sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Liane Randolph, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, the automaker affirmed its commitment to a zero-emissions future while recognizing the state’s authority.

The move places GM on the list of “CARB-aligned OEMs,” so the state will be able to purchase GM vehicles for government fleets. The company also affirmed support for CARB goals and attested it will support the state’s regulations.

The reversal comes after GM notably sided with the Trump administration as the government and state battled over California’s rights to set its own emissions standards. GM, along with other automakers such as Toyota, preferred a single national standard. In late 2020, shortly after President Joe Biden’s election, GM withdrew support from the Trump administration to strip California of its emissions-setting capabilities. Cross-town rival Ford, notably, did not back the Trump administration.

“GM is proud to share California’s vision of an all-electric future with zero emissions,” Omar Vargas, GM vice president and head of Global Public Policy, said in a statement. 

“GM is joining California in our fight for clean air and emission reduction as part of the company’s pursuit of a zero-emissions future,” Gov. Newsom said in his own statement. “This agreement will help accelerate California’s nation-leading commitment to tackling the climate crisis. We welcome GM in our clean vehicle revolution.”

Under the Biden administration, the US will adhere to stricter fuel economy standards that reverse cuts made under President Donald Trump. Biden also targets 50% of new vehicles sold to be electric cars by the end of this decade. Locally, in California, the state plans to ban the sale of new cars with an internal-combustion engine by 2035.