UAW opposes Trump proposal to freeze fuel rules at 2020 levels, according to testimony

Union will tell Congress about it Thursday

WASHINGTON — The United Auto Workers (UAW) will tell Congress on Thursday the union opposes the Trump administration's proposal to freeze fuel efficiency requirements at 2020 levels through 2026, according to written testimony.

The UAW's legislative director, Josh Nassar, will tell two subcommittees of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee that the union, which represents workers at General Motors Co , Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV , shares automakers' concerns the proposal "could lead to protracted litigation and uncertainty in the industry that will limit growth."

Deputy National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA) Heidi King told the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that existing fuel efficiency standards have hiked the cost of new vehicles and may "discourage consumers from replacing their older car with a newer car that is safer, cleaner and more fuel efficient."

King said NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Administration are reviewing more than 650,000 comments but said the agencies plan issue a final rule "soon."

King and Bill Wehrum, the EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, will testify on Thursday at the House hearing. Mary Nichols, who heads the California Air Resources Board, will also testify on Thursday.

The Trump administration's "preferred alternative" would increase U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels a day by the 2030s but reduce automakers' regulatory costs by more than $300 billion, the agencies said.

Earlier this month, 17 major automakers including GM, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp, urged the White House to resume talks with California aimed at avoiding a lengthy legal battle over the standards. Automakers backed a compromise, warning that the lack of a deal could lead to "an extended period of litigation and instability."

The car companies urged a compromise "midway" between the Obama era standards that require annual decreases of about 5% in emissions and the Trump administration's proposal.

Nassar will say that the UAW urged California, the White House and others "to develop balanced regulations that are good for the environment, American workers, U.S. manufacturing, and the economy."

Reporting by David Shepardson.

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