Steven Overly writes in
The Washington Post:
President Trump told leaders of the country’s largest automakers Tuesday that he will curtail “unnecessary” environmental regulations and make it easier to build plants in the United States, changes that he expects will shore up the manufacturing jobs he repeatedly promised to voters on the campaign trail.
After weeks of taunting the automotive industry over Twitter, Trump made a point to meet with the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler just days into his term. He has pressured the companies to build more vehicles in the United States and hire more Americans into manufacturing jobs.
“We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants, many other plants, you’re not being singled out … to have a lot of plants from a lot of different items built in the United States,” Trump told executives Tuesday. “It’s happening. It’s happening, bigly.”
But Trump’s efforts to increase U.S. auto manufacturing may require more than changes to environmental regulations or permits, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research.
Economics still favor building plants and hiring workers in Mexico, where labor is less expensive and there are fewer trade barriers. What’s more, Dziczek said the big automakers make investments knowing they will outlive any single president, regardless of what policies or regulations are put in place.
“This industry has been around for 100 years, and plants last for 40 or 50 years or more,” Dziczek said. “They can’t be swerving left and right every time there is a political change.”
From the same article:
President Trump told the chief executives that environmental regulations are “out of control” and his administration will focus on “real regulations that mean something” while eliminating those that he finds inhospitable to business.
“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it’s out of control,” Trump said.
Executives declined to answer questions after the meeting, including whether the president cited any specific regulations he would cut. Only a portion of Tuesday’s gathering was open to the press.
The industry contends that complying with increasingly stringent fuel economy standards increases the cost of making cars, which must then be passed on to buyers or compensated for with job cuts.
Those regulations were introduced after the Obama administration rescued GM and Chrysler during the financial downturn and were upheld by the Environmental Protection Agency two weeks ago.
Safe Climate Campaign Director Daniel Becker said job creation doesn’t need to come at the expense of regulations that have a positive impact on the environment. The fuel economy standards, in particular, help to save consumers money at the gas pump and reduce the country’s dependence on oil, he said.
“Despite the rhetoric, there is often reason behind regulations, and in this case there is overwhelming evidence of how beneficial they are for consumers, the industry and overall Americans,” Becker said.
Analysts have speculated that Trump could ease those regulations or others that impact the industry as a reward for companies creating more jobs in the United States. Trump has also pledged to reduce corporate taxes, a move that would surely please executives.
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