May 9 (UPI) -- California lawmakers reached out to major automobile manufacturers to counter federal efforts to weaken fuel economy standards, state senators said.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency said former President Barack Obama made a mistake when he called for an increase for all domestic vehicles to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The National Automobile Dealers Association applauded the EPA, saying standards alone weren't enough to "maximize the number of cleaner, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles we get on the road every year."
California was authorized to implement its own rules and dozens of states have adopted those standards. After the EPA's proposal, California and a coalition of more than a dozen other states and the District of Columbia sued in an effort to prevent the rollback.
"The existing standards deliver fuel savings for your customers, provide cleaner air for all Americans to breathe, help combat the catastrophic effects of climate change and offer investment certainty for your businesses," the senators wrote.
The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, are inching higher nationally on the back of improvements in the crude oil market.
A survey from motor club AAA, meanwhile, found U.S. consumers were migrating to electric vehicles. Its results show about 20 percent of U.S. drivers might consider an EV option for their next purchase, up from the 15 percent expressing the same opinion last year. Of those leaning to alternative vehicles, 87 percent said range was their main point of consideration.
The California Democrats pointed to companies like Ford and Honda who have spoken out against a rollback of fuel economy standards. The federal government, they added, may be preparing its own challenge to California's authority to set its own standards.
"As you know, this would provoke years of litigation and investment uncertainty for your industry," they wrote.