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California to stop buying from Toyota, GM, other automakers that backed Trump in emissions fight

Megan Henney

California's government is escalating its emissions battle with the Trump administration, announcing it will halt all purchases of new vehicles from General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers that backed the White House's decision to strip the state of its power to regulate tailpipe emissions.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to implement the ban in January 2020.

"Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of CA's buying power," Newsom wrote on Twitter.

The decision could worsen a growing rift in the auto industry over climate change.

Last month, GM, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler sided with Trump on the emissions rules, breaking from Ford Motor, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW, which in July agreed to back a deal with California for stricter fuel standards. "Ensuring that America's vehicles are efficient, safe and affordable is a priority for us all," the companies said in a statement.

Under the agreement, automakers would have until 2026 to produce cars that reach a minimum of 50 miles per gallon, in line with standards championed by President Barack Obama. President Trump wants to maintain the current standard of 37 mpg until 2026.

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Those companies' decision to circumvent the White House angered the president (he tweeted that Henry Ford would be "very disappointed" in the decision)  and in September, the administration moved to revoke California's authority to set its own standard.

California and 23 other states sued the administration over that decision, arguing the White House unlawfully removed the state’s waiver, which was granted under the Clean Air Act.

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According to data from the California Department of General Services, compiled by Cal Matters, California spent $74 million on its fleet of passenger vehicles last year. The state’s decision could hit GM hard: In 2018, it spent about $270 million on GM-owned Chevrolet vehicles. Comparatively, it spent just $3.6 million on vehicles from Toyota and $3 million on Fiat Chrysler.

Toyota, GM and Fiat Chrysler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A GM spokesperson, however, told The New York Times the state is depriving itself of the low-cost electric vehicles it needs to meet certain environmental objectives.

In a statement published on Friday, the California Department of General Services said that, effective immediately, any sedan purchased by state agencies need to be electric or hybrid vehicles.

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