"We're in essence cutting the throats of the U.S. in terms of our continued leadership in the car sector, ceding that to China, and we're again going to be years behind them in terms of the development of new and innovative technologies."
Detroit – 30 March 2020
7. A sign lets visitors know that a car dealership is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak
A Michigan congresswoman whose district is home to Ford's headquarters says the White House's decision to roll back Obama-era vehicle mileage standards is the "wrong thing to do and wrong direction."
"This administration should have gotten all the players at the table to reach consensus agreement," Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell said Tuesday in response to the announcement of the Trump administration's relaxed mileage rules.
The change waters down a tough Obama mileage standard that would have encouraged automakers to ramp up production of electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient gas and diesel vehicles.
Gina McCarthy, CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the new rules will make the U.S. auto industry less competitive.
"We're in essence cutting the throats of the U.S. in terms of our continued leadership in the car sector, ceding that to China, and we're again going to be years behind them in terms of the development of new and innovative technologies," said McCarthy, who headed up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama.
The change guts Obama's legacy effort against climate-changing fossil fuel emissions. Opponents say it will kill several hundred more Americans a year through dirtier air, compared to the Obama standards.
McCarthy says the "only winner in this announcement is the oil industry, because it's going to sell a whole lot more gasoline and at everybody else's expense."
Last year, 72% of the new vehicles purchased by U.S. consumers were trucks or SUVs. It was 51% when the current standards went into effect in 2012. The Trump administration says the looser mileage standards will allow consumers to keep buying the less fuel-efficient SUVs.
California and about a dozen other states say they will continue resisting the Trump standards in court, which Dingell says will hurt carmakers.
"This industry is more fragile now than it was with what's going on with the coronavirus. They need certainty. They don't need court cases," she said.