GM recognizes California's authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards

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GM has reversed course on its emissions policy, saying it now recognizes California's authority to set its own vehicle pollution standards, TechCrunch as reported. Previously, the automaker backed efforts by the former Trump administration to force the state to abandon its own standards in favor of federal emissions policies. However, it began to reverse course shortly after Biden was elected president, pulling out of the Trump administration's lawsuit against the state. 

As the most populous state with the strictest rules, California generally sets the emissions agenda for automakers and other states. Back in 2018, however, the Trump administration challenged California's ability to set its own rules independently from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Honda agreed to work with California on voluntary targets, but GM, along with Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, sided with the Trump administration. 

"[GM] is committed to emissions reductions that are aligned with the California Air Resources Board's targets and... complying with California's regulations," GM VP Omar Vargas wrote in a letter to California governor Gavin Newsom. 

Because of its past decision to side with the Trump administration, GM was banned by California in 2019 for government fleet purchases. "Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power," Newsom said at the time. Now, the state will allow GM to become a supplier, with Newsom welcoming the company to its "clean vehicle revolution." 

After defeating Trump, President Joe Biden announced a plan to accelerate a transition to EVs in order to combat global warming. GM followed those political winds, renouncing the earlier lawsuit and accelerating its own EV plans. The company now says it will stop selling ICE vehicles by 2040 and will spend $35 billion to develop EVs and self-driving cars by 2025. The company recently unveiled an electric version of its Silverado pickup designed to fight Ford's F-150 Lightning that's proved to be a hit with buyers.

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