LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON -- California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, who sources say could be the next federal environment chief, said on Thursday her state's agreement with major automakers for fuel efficiency requirements could serve as a "good template" for federal standards through 2025.
The Trump administration in March finalized a rollback of U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to require 1.5 percent annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5 percent yearly boosts in Obama administration rules it discarded.
California and other states have filed suit to challenge the rollback. Automakers including Ford Motor Co., Honda and Volkswagen Group struck a compromise deal with the state that falls between the Trump administration and Obama-era requirements.
Many automakers are bracing for a lengthy court or regulatory fights over tougher standards that they say could cost them billions of dollars.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to negotiate "ambitious fuel economy standards" with industry, unions and environmental groups.
Nichols said California's framework deal with automakers on emissions, announced in July 2019 and finalized in August 2020, "is a good template and then we should be moving on to the next generation of regulation."
Other automakers, including General Motors, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles opted not to join the California emissions pact and sided with President Donald Trump on the emissions fight.
Nichols said fuel efficiency requirements should be increased but added: "I don't think honestly the future of CAFE is the relevant question ... This is not where the action is."