The U.S. House Judiciary Panel plans to hold hearings and seek paperwork into the Justice Division’s decision to open an antitrust probe into four major auto manufacturers’ voluntary settlement with California to adopt compromise vehicle emissions standards.
The Justice Division refused to comment. The White House didn’t instantly comment.
The two House Democrats added, “there is no antitrust theory that the Justice Division can use to prove that this settlement will unreasonably restrict trade or otherwise violate the antitrust laws.”
Several news organizations reported Friday the existence of the probe as the Trump government has ramped up its opposition to auto companies seeking to sidestep it on rolling back Obama-era fuel-efficiency guidelines.
The antitrust division sent Aug. 28 letters to the four auto companies saying the federal government was concerned the settlement “may breach federal antitrust laws” but adding it had “reached no conclusions,” based on documents.
In July, the four auto companies stated they had reached an agreement to adopt standards that had been lower than Obama-era guidelines; however, higher than the Trump government’s 2018 bid.
The auto companies were defying the Trump administration’s effort to strip California of the right to combat the climate crisis setting its own standards.
On Friday, general counsels at the Environmental Protection Agency informed California Air Resource Board Chairperson Mary Nichols in a letter that its actions on the voluntary settlement “seem unlawful and invalid.”
Thursday’s report stated the administration was moving forward with plans to remove California of its waiver under the Clean Air Act to set its vehicle emissions guidelines and requiring auto companies to build a rising number of zero-emission autos.