Top executives from Detroit automakers met with President Trump on Tuesday to hear his statements on cutting back environment regulations to spur more domestic job creation.
Trump said he will curtail “unnecessary” environmental regulations and make it easier to build manufacturing plants in the U.S. He expects these changes to support bringing back more manufacturing jobs to Americans, a key theme from his election campaign.
“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it’s out of control,” Trump said.
The new administration will focus on “real regulations that mean something” while eliminating those that he finds unfriendly to business, he said.
Chief executives Mary Barra of General Motors, Mark Fields of Ford, and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles met with the president. Other top executives from the “Big 3” automakers were also there with some of Trump’s staff.
These executives declined to answer media questions after the meeting, including whether Trump spoke to any specific regulations he plans to cut.
Barra and Fields did make comments supportive of the meeting.
“There is a huge opportunity working together as an industry with government that we can improve the environment, improve safety, and improve jobs creation and the competitiveness of manufacturing,” Barra said to reporters after the meeting.
Fields saw positive signs in Trump’s decision the day before on the U.S. withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He sees it as a good example of the president’s desire to improve competitiveness and “create a renaissance in American manufacturing.”
Trump had set the tone for the meeting through a tweet soon before the meeting:
Trump has been clear about wanting to dismantle the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to stop renewal of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since the election, he‘s been pressuring automakers to pull out of Mexico and bring back more jobs to the U.S., through a series of Twitter posts. Automakers have been responding to the pressure, including Toyota’s announcement yesterday that it will create 400 new jobs at its plant in Princeton, Ind.
The carmaker CEOs were advised yesterday by Trump to devise a “series of actions” that will boost U.S. manufacturing and to submit those plans to the administration within 30 days, according to Washington Post.
Auto executives have been in communication with the Trump administration over the Environmental Protection Agency’s abrupt decision to finish the midterm review of the 2025 fuel economy mandate. They’re asking for an easing up of the Obama administration and EPA’s targets for hitting fuel economy gains and emissions reductions that automakers say will cost them billions to reach and could result in job cuts.
Automakers will be interested in seeing whether Trump’s appointment for the EPA administrator will be approved. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said during the Senate confirmation hearing that he would be taking a thorough approach to reviewing the EPA head’s decision earlier this month to approve the fuel economy and emissions timeline.
“It merits review and I would review that,” Pruitt said during the hearing last week.
Some organizations had supported the EPA’s decision to move the fuel economy rules forward in January. Consumers Union, which owns Consumer Reports, sees the mandate as attainable, and constructive for cutting cost of ownership down significantly for consumers through fuel savings.
Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign advocacy group, told Washington Post that job creation doesn’t have to clash with regulations having a positive impact on the environment. Fuel economy standards can help consumers save money at the gas pump and free up the country from its oil dependence, 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.
Trump has also pledged to reduce corporate taxes. He advocates other measures that he says will support the U.S. economy and bring back jobs to Americans who have been watching them go overseas.
The president has been threating to enforce a 35 percent tariff on goods imported for sale. He’d threated to impose that hefty tariff earlier this month on BMW because of its new plant in Mexico and plans to import these vehicles into the U.S.
On Monday, Trump met with several business leaders from several industries, including Fields and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.