Ford, VW Pressured to Adhere to Environmental Emissions Standards

Ford Volkswagen Logos

In an effort to coerce automotive manufacturers--particularly Ford and Volkswagen--to fulfill their fuel emissions and economy targets for the next decade, various environmental groups banded together and launched a campaign last Wednesday, October 25, addressing the issue.

"The automakers and the Trump administration are conspiring to undo clean car standards that will save consumers thousands of dollars on each vehicle they purchase," said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman in a statement. Public Citizen is a consumers' rights advocacy group based in Washington D.C. in the United States. "That the Trump administration is willing to drain billions of dollars from consumers' collective pockets is yet more evidence of the complete corporate takeover of our government. Consumers will not stand by quietly--we're going to hold the automakers accountable, starting with Ford and Volkswagen."

In September, the coalition sent letters to the CEOs of 20 car brands operating in the US, calling on them to cease any activity designed to delay or weaken the application and implementation of the greenhouse gas standards that dictate average fuel economy on the corporate manufacturing level.

The coalition is singling Ford out because Executive Chairman Bill Ford has routinely expressed his support for environmental and sustainable practices. Behind its chairman, the Blue Oval even helped broker emission standards in the past. Meanwhile, VW is being targeted because of the 2015 emissions scandal it became entangled with.

The environmental group coalition aims to pressure Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen Group of America to support former President Barack Obama’s fuel efficiency program. Considered one of the former president’s defining legacies, the program hopes to curb greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In the US, the transport sector accounts for 28 percent of the greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere.

The coalition also wants both car makers to dissociate themselves from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM)--a group that identifies BMW, Fiat Chrysler, GMC, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Mercedes-Benz as members. The group is accused of actively lobbying to relax the standards and forge their own path toward environmental consciousness and sustainability.

Last February, the AAM sought an audience with President Donald Trump to ask him to review the emission standards for the 2022-25 model years. The group argued that the previous administration's fuel efficiency program puts them in a ridiculously tight spot, as it locked in the standards before data defining them could be validated.

The AAM claim that adjustments to the program need be made because they believe that consumers will not buy green cars that are not affordable, pushing them to buy less fuel-efficient vehicles instead.

Listening to the automakers' plea, Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the midterm review process. The agency is expected to make a final decision on the standards by April 2018. The AAM accused the EPA of not having a unified model for measuring compliance as the agency promised.

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