One of the stances that helped Donald Trump win the favor of much of the business community was his promise to roll back environmental regulations that leaders claimed made it more difficult to operate.
And while much of his time in office has been dominated by other headlines, there has been movement by the administration to make good on its regulatory agenda.
Auto makers, for example, got the administration to reopen the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's midterm review of the 2022-25 model year standards, saying they had been pushed in by politically motivated regulators. Auto makers and their dealers argue that the extra costs will make fuel efficient vehicles unaffordable.
The strange thing is, however, there appears to be substantial opposition to the plan to rethink the initiatives, much of it from suppliers that have made investments in R&D and production capacity to help the car makers meet the standards enacted by the Obama administration. They said the capital spending was based on business growth, arguing if volumes are lower, they will need to charge more to help recoup those investments.
Other camps are lining up in opposition as well. California regulators say they may withdraw from the national accord if the EPA steps back greenhouse-gas standards and set its own, stricter regulations. The state being in step with the national standard has benefited auto makers because it gives them guidelines for vehicles they can sell in all states.
At an EPA hearing to get input on the potential rules changes, suppliers said if the EPA makes standards less strict, it will hurt the economy and cost jobs. The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association testified that auto supplier employment has jumped 23.3 percent in the past five years, partly because of companies developing advanced technology to meet the 2012 rules. Another coalition said there are more than 1,200 facilities in 48 states that employ 28,000 workers to produce components and materials that are aimed at improving fuel economy.
And the suppliers will be the ones to suffer, because 80 percent of the developments are being done by those firms—not the auto makers themselves.
They obviously feel that if the administration is going to listen to their arguments, they must be made in economic terms they can understand.