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Feds Target California Emissions Deal With Automakers That Bypasses Trump Administration Rules

(CBS SF/AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department and two other federal agencies are moving to dismantle a deal between California and four automakers to abide by emissions and mileage standards tougher that those proposed by the Trump administration.

Ford said Friday the company received a letter from the DOJ informing it of an antitrust investigation into an agreement by Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW to adopt California's stricter emissions standards. Ford spokesman T.R. Reid said the company is cooperating with the department.

The deal reached in July would bypass the Trump administration's push to relax pollution and mileage standards nationwide that were set by the Obama administration. The administration says the extra expense to comply with the requirements will raise the price of new cars, making them unaffordable and depriving buyers of new safety technology. Many experts, including former EPA engineers, challenge the administration's argument.

In additon Friday, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency told California officials in a letter that deal appears to violate federal law, since the Clean Air Act and other laws prohibit states from setting motor vehicle fuel economy standards.

The July agreement bypassed the Trump administration's plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under the Obama administration at 2021 levels.

The automakers agreed with the California Air Resources Board to reduce emissions by 3.7% per year starting with the 2022 model year, through 2026. They would have gone up by 4.7% per year through 2025 under the Obama standards, according to California officials.

Pollution standards are closely linked to fuel economy requirements.

The Justice Department wouldn't comment on the investigation.


© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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