/DOJ to probe automakers who rebuked Trump fuel efficiency rollback

DOJ to probe automakers who rebuked Trump fuel efficiency rollback

Vehicles on a highway

Traffic moves along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Justice Department is opening an antitrust probe into a deal between four automakers and California on vehicle fuel economy standards, one of the companies confirmed today.

Ford Motor Co., Honda, BMW and Volkswagen joined the July agreement with California in protest over the Trump administration’s handling of fuel efficiency rules. The Trump administration has proposed flatlining efficiency increases and revoking California’s ability to set its own, more stringent tailpipe standards.

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“We have received a letter from the Department of Justice and will cooperate with respect to any inquiry,” Ford said in a statement.

POLITICO reported Wednesday that the Trump administration is weighing moving ahead on pulling California’s waiver to set its own standards. Sources have said the administration views that as a legal matter separate from the policy being hammered out by the EPA and Transportation Department.

Automakers signed on with California in part out of concern that Trump’s efforts would splinter the U.S. market, as it’s not clear whether a move to scrap California’s waiver would survive a court challenge.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the antitrust case. DOJ did not immediately return a request for comment.

Dan Sperling, a member of the California Air Resources Board, called the idea “fascinating, amusing,” but said he had not previously been made aware of the probe.

Debra Kahn contributed to this report.

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