FedEx CEO Backed by Generals Tries to Nudge Trump on Fuel Rules
by John Lippert (Bloomberg) Smith leads effort to position standards as security issue; Group calling for electric vehicles, U.S. oil production — To get Donald Trump to come around to tougher fuel-economy standards, a corporate titan is calling in the troops and following a battle plan that worked when George W. Bush was president.
FedEx Corp. Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith, with backing from corporate executives and a phalanx of retired U.S. generals and admirals, is urging the president not to eviscerate rules that would raise motor-vehicle mileage standards through 2025. Trump says those changes could destroy the auto industry. But Smith and his allies are positioning the regulations as crucial to defense and diplomacy, a tack that won over the Bush administration in 2007.
SAFE spokeswoman Leslie Hayward said the group is having a constructive dialogue with the Trump administration but declined to comment on specific meetings.
Although the emergence of fracking has boosted domestic output, the U.S. still imports a quarter of its oil, exposing Americans to never-ending threats of sudden price spikes and terrorism, said Smith, who served as a U.S. Marine air reconnaissance officer during the Vietnam War.
The FedEx chief is calling for the U.S. transportation system to have less than half its fuel coming from petroleum by 2040. He’s also promoting everything from electric batteries for passenger cars to natural gas for over-the-road freight haulers.
Myron Ebell, the former head of Trump’s environmental transition team, said the fracking revolution that’s boosting domestic energy production has rendered SAFE’s agenda, including its promotion of electric cars, as unnecessary.
“History has passed them by,” Ebell said.
Smith said he doesn’t believe Trump’s review of the Obama standards will automatically lead to a rollback, partly because California and nine other states have their own targets. SAFE is urging Trump not to undermine California’s ability to set its own standards.
“There will be improved fuel-economy goals that come out of this, if for no other reason than that California will require it,” he said. READ MORE