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GM Abandons Trump Admin in Lawsuit Over California Emission Standards, a Sign Automaker Knows Biden Will Be Taking Over


US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 14, 2020.

General Motors announced that the company would no longer be supporting the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to prevent the state of California from setting its own regulations regarding the emission standards that are stricter than those set by the federal government, Reuters reported on Monday.

The car manufacturer’s about-face comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The Trump administration had previously weakened federal emissions standards set by the Obama administration, leading California and several other states to declare that they would keep the more stringent and environmentally conscious standards in place.

In 2019, GM joined automakers Toyota Motor Corp and Fiat Chrysler in supporting the Trump administration’s effort to roll back regulations designed to combat climate change, arguing that the federal government has the authority to supersede fuel economy standards for consumer automobiles set by any individual states.

According to the Reuters report, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra penned a letter to environmental groups stating that the company was “immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”

Barra also spoke to California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom about the litigation, reportedly saying she believes that “the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions.” She added that she was “confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future.”

Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW in 2019 struck a surprise deal with California stating that they would agree to continue abiding by the Obama administration’s standards, a move that severely embarrassed the Trump administration. The deal led to the Department of Justice opening an investigation into whether the deal reached by the four companies could limit consumer choice in violation of federal anti-trust laws. The probe was widely viewed as retaliatory in nature.

Trump also attacked GM and Barra earlier this year, claiming the company failed to provide life-saving ventilators during the initial peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’,” Trump tweeted in March, later clarifying that “invoke P” was a reference to the Defense Production Act.

[image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.