Emissions rules could cost 1 million jobs, Ford CEO tells Trump: what's behind that number?

Among his actions during a whirlwind first week in office, U.S. President Donald Trump met last week with the CEOs of U.S. automakers Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

He met on two consecutive days with Mark Fields, CEO of Ford, in fact. Fields was part of a group of manufacturing executives who met with the president separately the day before the carmaker CEO gathering.

Fields told the president, he said, that up to 1 million jobs could be at risk from current emission and fuel-economy standards—a number worth examining in greater detail.

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During that first meeting, according to Ward’s Auto, Trump asked each executive to list four or five regulations on their industry they felt were good, then the same number that they felt impeded their businesses.

The president said he could reconvene with the manufacturing executives in a month to discuss the topics they raised.

He asked a similar question the following day when meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford’s Fields, and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Fields recounted that visit during a panel discussion at the National Automobile Dealers Association annual conference in New Orleans last week.

The executives discussed with the president “a reasonable fuel-economy, one national standard implementation that would be aligned with market realities, affordability and jobs,” Fields said onstage.

They also covered trade pacts and tax policy, Fields continued, concluding, “I think he’s going to be very good for our industry”—a line that drew applause from the dealers, according to Ward’s.

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The industry does not want to get rid of the current corporate average fuel-economy standards and associated emission limits, Fields said.

What it does want is “one national standard for fuel economy,” which Fields called “really important.”

And Fields cited studies that suggested up to 1 million U.S. jobs could be at risk “if we’re not given some level of flexibility in aligning with market realities.”

The White House, Washington, D.C. [Creative Commons license by dcjohn]

The White House, Washington, D.C. [Creative Commons license by dcjohn]

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(Fields also noted the new president sought the CEOs’ approval for his new gold curtains and choice of carpet in the Oval Office.)

The theme of unified national standards had been cited by auto executives even before Trump was inaugurated.

That specifically means federal action to eliminate the 2009 EPA waiver that allows California alone to set its own emission standards, as it has been doing since before the EPA existed.

That waiver permits any U.S. state to abide by the federal standards or opt into the stricter California standards, but not to set its own emission rules.

NOTE: Green Car Reports will have a separate article within a few days on those California standards and the possible impacts of abolishing the EPA waiver.

The promise of jobs was clearly a large part of the president’s campaigning, however, and Fields’ claim of 1 million jobs at risk seemed to deserve more attention.

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