DETROIT - U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to hold an event at the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run on Wednesday to talk about jobs — specifically automotive jobs — and may announce a roll back of fuel efficiency standards.
Trump administration officials confirmed plans for the visit but did not provide details about the purpose or the location of the event. Administration officials said the president also will meet with auto executives, union officials and hold a rally with workers.
The Free Press has learned separately that the president plans to hold the event at Willow Run, former bomber plant in Ypsilanti Township during WWII. Willow Run, also a former General Motors plant, is home to the American Center for Mobility, a testing center for self-driving vehicles.
The president has invited a number of automakers, including the Detroit Three, to attend the event, according to two people familiar with the president's plans.
Both people also said they expect the president will talk about easing fuel economy and emissions standards set to take place between 2021 and 2025.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began been reviewing those standards last year. Adopted in 2011, the automotive industry has been lobbying hard for the standards to be relaxed because of unanticipated changes in the types of cars consumers are buying and lower than expected oil and gas prices.
Those standards, adopted by the Obama administration, will require steep spending in the coming years and the automotive industry has lobbied hard for both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards to be relaxed.
The Trump administration official declined to comment on any potential changes to those regulations but did say Trump will address the need to create manufacturing jobs, including through deregulation.
Last week, several Democratic U.S. senators and environmental groups blasted plans said to be in the works to roll back tougher fuel-use standards for American vehicles, arguing that they will return automakers to pre-recession policies that led to the near-collapse of the domestic industry.
Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Tom Carper of Delaware and Jeff Merkley of Oregon said last week that rolling back fuel economy standards would be a mistake that would hurt the country and the auto industry.
Markey and the others also said that while a change to future standards might give American automakers leeway to sell more profitable, larger vehicles, that practice was one of the biggest problems with the industry prior to 2008-09, when General Motors and Chrysler used billions of dollars in taxpayer investment to survive. Higher fuel prices hurt sales of bigger vehicles, they said, and American car companies were in no position to react with more fuel-efficient vehicles.
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