"What we have here is a statement of principles meant to reach out to the federal government to move them off the track that they seem to be on and onto a more constructive track", Nichols told The Washington Post.
What's next? Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, told the newspaper that the deal could be an "olive branch" to the Trump administration and said she hopes the federal government signs on.
The deal: Following weeks of secret discussions, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW of North America have struck a deal with California, as first reported by the Washington Post, to boost the average fuel efficiency of their fleets to 50 miles per gallon by 2026.
The Trump administration aims to freeze mileage standards for light-duty vehicles at about 37 miles per gallon on average, instead of increasing them to about 51 mpg for the 2025 model year as the Obama administration had intended.
The voluntary plan is said to be a compromise between the Obama and Trump proposals, calling for an increase in fuel efficiency at an annual rate of 3.7 percent from the 2022 through 2026 model years. She said the companies sought regulatory certainty and had agreed not to legally challenge California's vehicle regulatory authority.
Under the California agreement, the four automakers have agreed to reach a standard of about 50 miles per gallon by 2026.
"Today's announcement of the framework of an agreement by California and certain automakers acknowledges that the MY2022-2025 standards developed by the Obama administration are not attainable and need to be adjusted", said the statement from the alliance. "This voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers".
The proposal would also revoke California's long-standing authority to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has backed for decades.
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"While the Trump administration is determined to roll back successful clean auto standards and deny drivers the choice of cleaner, more efficient cars in the years ahead, California has reached a voluntary agreement with some automakers to continue addressing global warming emissions from the transportation sector".
Spokesman Judd Deere says the federal government, and not a single state, should set the standard. Officials argued the lower mileage standards would make vehicles more affordable and, indirectly, safer.
Aside from extending credits for building electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel vehicles, the deal also hikes the cap for winning credits for fuel efficiency improvements not captured by traditional testing. "Clean air emissions standards ... are perhaps the most significant thing this state can do, and this nation can do, to advance those goals", Newsom said.
In an joint statement released Thursday in coordination with the California Air Resources Board, the automakers said, "These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions". "At the end of the day, this deal doesn't matter because we don't see a situation where California wins in court".
"The Trump administration is hell bent on rolling [emissions standards] back".
On June 6, 17 major automakers wrote a letter to Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom seeking to revive talks to avoid lengthy litigation. However, the White House rejected that effort, prompting the automakers and California to launch their own private talks.
Some of the largest automakers in the USA have banded together with California-to set an example for the EPA and its long-stalled emissions and fuel economy revamp.
"The autos are attempting to put further pressure on their brethren and the Trump administration to negotiate with California".